The Release of Nelson Mandela (Dates with History)

The Release of Nelson Mandela (Dates with History)by John Malam.

Imperialism: "Extending a State's rule over other territories", according to the dictionary. Perhaps one should add, "and its exploitation by the latter for their own interests." It is usually accomplished by superior force, of ten allied to trade (as in India) or connected with missionary religion.

South Africa was first colonised by the Boers (Dutch) who were ousted by the British in the second Boer War (1899-1902). And the native Africans? Their fate was similar to that of other Asian and African victims of imperialist aggression: treated as inferior, employed as cheap labour and, in the main, led a life of poverty and exploitation. Some luckier ones, however, prospered and even managed to get an education which was denied to the rest. There was organised resistance leading to uprisings which were brutally suppressed.

The ANC was founded in 1912 to fight for equality and against injustice. Nelson Mandela (originally called by an African name meaning 'troublemaker') was born in 1918 in an African village. He was descended from kings and his father was headman of his village and advisor to the king of that area. He was taken into the king's household and given his new, English, name.

He was fortunate enough to get an education, denied to most Africans and was able to continue his studies in law at university. This did not dampen his indignation at the lot of his fellow Africans. He joined the struggle and soon played a leading role in the ANC. It was decided that, as peaceful protests were met with state violence and seemed to be getting nowhere, they would go over to secret, violent struggle. As a result he and many of his comrades spent years in jail. Whilst there, he and others were accused of serious crimes and he was sentenced to life imprisonment – in the notorious Robben Island prison.

During his 28 years incarceration the struggle against white supremacy continued and sharpened. International support was widespread. The system of Apartheid, as the discrimination against blacks was called, eventually gave way and Mandela was released. New elections were held and Mandela became president.

Read the inspiring story of the life of his great man who today is honoured throughout the world.