A biography of Nelson Mandela from nobelprize.org
Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with F W De Klerk in 1993
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Chief Henry Mandela of the Tembu Tribe. Mandela himself was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand and qualified in law in 1942. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party’s apartheid policies after 1948. He went on trial for treason in 1956-1961 and was acquitted in 1961.
After the banning of the ANC in 1960, Nelson Mandela argued for the setting up of a military wing within the ANC. In June 1961, the ANC executive considered his proposal on the use of violent tactics and agreed that those members who wished to involve themselves in Mandela’s campaign would not be stopped from doing so by the ANC. This led to the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment with hard labour. In 1963, when many fellow leaders of the ANC and the Umkhonto we Sizwe were arrested, Mandela was brought to stand trial with them for plotting to overthrow the government by violence. His statement from the dock received considerable international publicity. On June 12, 1964, eight of the accused, including Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment. From 1964 to 1982, he was incarcerated at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town; thereafter, he was at Pollsmoor Prison, nearby on the mainland.
During his years in prison, Nelson Mandela’s reputation grew steadily. He was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in South Africa and became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength. He … refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom.
Nelson Mandela was released on February 11, 1990. After his release, he plunged himself wholeheartedly into his life’s work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier. In 1991, at the first national conference of the ANC held inside South Africa after the organization had been banned in 1960, Mandela was elected President of the ANC while his lifelong friend and colleague, Oliver Tambo, became the organisation’s National Chairperson.
Mr Mandela’s fake Ethiopian passport, issued in 1962, in the name of David Motsamayi. He used it to travel to travel the continent to arrange support for the newly set up Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). Available on www.nelsonmandela.org
Nelson Mandela speaking to the court at his trial in 1962. It was printed afterward in a pamphlet called ‘I ACCUSE! SPEECHES TO COURT BY NELSON MANDELA’. This was printed on poor paper in South Africa. Mandela’s picture was on the cover and below it: ‘WHEN YOU HAVE FINISHED PLEASE, PASS IT ON‘. Available on www.sahistory.org.za
I challenge the right of this Court to hear my case on two grounds. I challenge it firstly because I fear that I will not be given a fair and proper trial. I challenge it in the second place because I consider myself neither legally nor morally bound to obey laws made by a Parliament in which I have no representation.
I hate racial discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all along my life. I fight it now, and I will do so until the end of my days. I detest most intensely the set-up that surrounds me here. It makes me feel that I am a Black man in a White man’s Court. This should not be. I should feel perfectly free and at ease with the assurance that I am being tried by a fellow South African, who does not regard me as inferior…
BBC television news from 11th February 1990
Tonight hundreds of people took part in a torchlit procession through Bristol to mark the release of the worlds most famous prisoner. Just one of scores of celebrations up and down the country since Nelson Mandela was driven to freedom at a quarter past 2 this afternoon. Earlier in London’s Trafalgar Square 5000 people had started a celebration party more than an hour before Mr Mandela was set free at 1 o’clock the time originally appointed for his release. Unaware that the ANC leader was still within the prison walls, they danced, sang and chanted outside the South African embassy and kept it up for another 75 minutes until they heard Mr Mandela really had left jail.
Michael Jones writing for the American political organisation ‘the Heritage foundation’ in June 14 1990.
…Nelson Mandela is not a freedom fighter. He repeatedly has supported terrorism. Since Mandela’s release from prison and his subsequent refusal to renounce violence, the… ANC has launched terrorism and violence against civilians, claiming several hundred lives …though Mandela has spoken out against apartheid, he is not likely to support economic and political freedom if he or the ANC takes power in South Africa…Mandela praised the South African Communist Party in his first speech following his release from prison. Mandela said in Cape Town on February 11: “We are heartened by the fact that the alliance between ourselves and the [communist] party remains as strong as it always was.”
Mandela was not jailed because of his political viewpoints. Rather, he was imprisoned in 1962 for possessing explosive devises, which were used in sabotage attacks inside South Africa, and for inciting violence. Mandela’s violent actions would have resulted in imprisonment in virtually any country of the world.
In his bid to develop a democratic South Africa, President de Klerk faces the extraordinary challenge of developing democratic institutions where none traditionally have existed. De Klerk has made remarkable steps in this direction already, lifting South Africa’s state of emergency, reforming the state security system, abolishing hospital and other forms of segregation, releasing political prisoners, and rescinding the prohibition on the ANC, the South African Communist Party, and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)… De Klerk has also offered to begin talks with South Africa’s black majority to reach a democratic settlement. Without de Klerk’s bold leadership, the prospects for an end to apartheid would be much dimmer.
BBC News report from 10th May 1994
Nelson Mandela has become South Africa’s first black president after more than three centuries of white rule. Mr Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) party won 252 of the 400 seats in the first democratic elections of South Africa’s history.
As part of the ceremony he pledged his allegiance to South Africa and his determination to continue his work for reconciliation.
…Jubilant scenes on the streets of Pretoria followed the ceremony with blacks, whites and coloureds celebrating together.
Article on BBC News Website, published on 16th July 2008, as part of a series of pages celebrating Mandela’s 90th birthday
Nelson Mandela is one of the world’s most revered statesmen, who led the struggle to replace the apartheid regime of South Africa with a multi-racial democracy. Jailed for 27 years, he emerged to become the country’s first black president and to play a leading role in the drive for peace in other spheres of conflict. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. His charisma, self-depreciating sense of humour and lack of bitterness over his harsh treatment, as well as his amazing life story, partly explain his extraordinary global appeal.
Since stepping down as president in 1999, Mr Mandela has become South Africa’s highest-profile ambassador, campaigning against HIV/Aids and securing his country’s right to host the 2010 football World Cup. Mr Mandela – diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001 – was also involved in peace negotiations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and other African countries. He has also encouraged peace efforts in other areas of the world.
‘Leading Live: Nelson Mandela’ by Liz Gogerly, published in 2003
Mandela warned his country that years of neglect could not be reversed overnight, but he gave his people belief in themselves and the courage to tackle the problems ahead. It was his negotiations with President de Klerk that ensured that each and every person in South Africa could vote in democratic elections. Without Nelson Mandela who is to say whether this would have happened?
In his speeches Mandela always remembered the many others who joined him in the struggle. But it was Mandela’s wisdom and strength of character and his ability to forgive that helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. Nelson Mandela will always be remembered as a man who stood up and faced the enemy with courage, dignity and charm.