By SPENCER NEUMAN, age 10
Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was known for fighting Apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid was a system of separating black and white South Africans. The white descendants of the Dutch settlers in South Africa had discriminated against and denied rights to blacks for years. In 1948, they put into place Apartheid laws that made the discrimination legal.
Blacks in South Africa had to carry a “passbook” with them at all times to prove they were authorized to live in or pass through white-only sections of South Africa. Otherwise they would be arrested.
On March 21, 1960, a protest against these Apartheid laws led to the Sharpeville Massacre. That day, about 19,000 black South Africans showed up to protest, and by the end, the South African police had killed 69 of them. The United Nations condemned South Africa and many countries avoided doing business with South Africa, which made its economy struggle and put pressure on the government to end Apartheid.
Mandela had been protesting against Apartheid since the 1940s, working as a lawyer and an activist for an organization called the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC fought against Apartheid with military actions, strikes, boycotts and other acts of disobedience.
In 1962, Mandela was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. Over the next 30 years, political protest against Apartheid increased.
In 1990, an international campaign to release Mandela from prison was successful. Once free, Mandela worked to abolish Apartheid once and for all, and called for multi-racial elections. In 1994, the South African people elected Nelson Mandela as their first black president.
NELSON MANDELA THROUGH THE YEARS
By OMAR HASSAN ALI-BADIA, age 10
- Nelson Mandela was born Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18, 1918 in the village of Mvezo in South Africa. His family were Thembu royalty since his great-grandfather was a Thembu chief. He was named Nelson by a teacher who gave her students English names.
- In 1930, when Mandela was about 12, his father died. He was then placed under the care of the regent of the Thembu people, Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo. His guardians sent him to study at European style schools and colleges near his village.
- In 1941 he escaped an arranged marriage, moved to Johannesburg and became a night watchman at a mine. He was fired after they found out he was a runaway.
- In 1943 he finished his bachelors degree and began to study law at Wits University in Johannesburg.
- In 1944 he co-founded, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL), one of the many branches of the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC fought for the rights of black South Africans which were denied under Apartheid. In the same year, Mandela also married Evelyn Mase. Together they had four children.
- In 1952 he was arrested for violating the Suppression of Communism Act and was sentence to nine months of prison with hard labor.
- In 1958 Mandela and Evelyn Mase divorced and he soon married Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela. Mandela and Winnie had two daughters.
- On March 21, 1960, during a massive protest against Pass laws (laws obligating black South Africans to carry special passports at all times), the police fired on the crowd, killing 69 people. This became known as the Sharpeville Massacre, and served as a turning point in the fight against Apartheid.
- On March 30, 1960, Nelson Mandela was among thousands to be detained during a demonstration in response to the Sharpeville Massacre. On April 8 of the same year, the ANC was banned by the South African government.
- In 1961 after decades of peaceful acts, Mandela helped to found and lead the Umkhonto we Sizwe (abbreviated as MK and roughly translated to “Spear of the Nation”). The MK was the armed branch of the ANC, and formed as a response to the Sharpeville Massacre. MK warned the South African government that they would begin military attacks against the government if the they didn’t end Apartheid.
- On December 16, 1961, the MK launched it’s first attack on the government.
- On January 11, 1962, Mandela left the country for military training for the MK. Six months later he returned to the country and was arrested and sentenced to five years for urging violence and leaving the country without a passport.
- In 1964 Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison.
- In 1980 countries continued to put pressure on the South African government to end Apartheid causing some Apartheid laws to be repealed. In that year Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor prison. In the same year, the “Free Mandela!” campaign started, eventually prompting the UN Security Council to call for his release.
- On February 2, 1990, the ANC was unbanned, and nine days later on February 11, Nelson Mandela was freed from Victor Verster prison.
- From 1990 to 1993, the Apartheid system was gradually dismantled through a series of negotiations.
- In 1993 Mandela and F.W. de Klerk jointly received the Nobel peace prize for their work in coming to a peaceful end of conflict and ending Apartheid.
- In 1994 he was elected president of South Africa. His autobiography “Long Walk To Freedom” was published in that year.
- In 1999 he announced to the public that he would step down after one term as president.
- In 2003 he established the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, which allows South African students age of 30 or younger to a two-year scholarship for postgraduate study.
- On December 5, 2013 Nelson Mandela died at age 95 from a respiratory infection at his home in Johannesburg surrounded by his family.