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Hi! My name is Ulrik, and this is my student blog. My posts will be based on tasks and subjects given to the class by my English teacher Ann. I am currently in my third year at Sandvika High School, Norway.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Nelson Mandela- before his imprisonment

Everyone has heard about Nelson Mandela- the man who conquered apartheid, and became the first black president i South Africa. When he was released from prison, after 27 years, he became the leader of ANC(African National Congress), and started negotiations with the president in order to abolish apartheid- the negotiations ended with an multiracial election in 94, which ended with victory to Mandela and the ANC. His story after his release and election is well known- but what was his life like before his imprisonment?

The start of Mandela's political activism

Mandela was born in 1918- but I will start in 1940. After getting to know that an marriage had been arranged for him, Mandela fled to Johannesburg, where he worked in the mines- getting his first sight of "South African capitalism in action". He was later fired, because he was a runaway. In Johannesburg, he befriended ANC activists, and members of the communist party. He did, however, not become a member because of the party's atheistic beliefs, and the fact that he saw the struggle in Africa as an racial conflict, not a class struggle. When studying law later on, he became friends with several other liberal, white, communist Europeans, and he also became a member of the ANC. Mandela did however still believe that the fight for political self-determination should be done by blacks only, not involving the communist party. In order to mobilize the youth, African National Congress Youth League was founded in 1944- and Mandela became a member of the executive committee.

The 1948 election

In the whites only, general election of 1948, the National Party came to power. Clearly racists, the new government expanded racial segregation with the new apartheid legislation. Mandela, who had worked his way upwards gaining more influence in the ANC, started together with his fellow members, to advocate and take direct actions towards apartheid- such as strikes and boycotts. With a new, more militant, board coming together in the ANC, the organisation moved towards a more revolutionary path. In 1949, Mandela became much more involved in politics, and as a result of this he failed his final year at the university, and was thrown out.

The road towards a more violent path

In 1950, Mandela became president of the ANCYL, and he argued against a united front with the communists- however, he was outvoted, and at some point he changed his view on things completely. His mistrust towards communism broke down, and he was heavily influenced by Karl Marx, Lenin, Mao etc. In 1952  ANC started their Defiance campaign- encouraging people to ignore the apartheid laws. In protests, supporting the ANC, 8500 protesters were arrested- after the campaign, ANC's membership grew from 20.000 to 100.000. Later on the same year, Mandela and 20 others were arrested under the new "Suppression of communism act", and sentenced to hard labour.
in 1955, Mandela asked the ANC leader to request weapons from China- so that the ANC could start guerilla warfare

Umkhonto we Sizwe- Spear of the Nation

In 1961, with inspiration from Castro's 26th of July movement, and the Cuban revolution, Mandela co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe(MK)- which over time became the armed wing of the ANC- with most of it's members being communists. Mandela and the other leaders of the MK decided to start with acts of sabotage directed at the government- especially military installations and power plants- with the use of bombings. They would do this at night, to avoid as much civilian casualties as possible. Mandela did however express, that if these tactics were to fail, they should move towards a more openly "guerilla warfare and terrorism".
In their first campaigns, they bombed a subway station- and on the 16 December  1961, they detonated 57 bombs- however few civilians were killed. Their attacks went on for 18 months- as a part of their campaign for a full constitutional change. In the later 60s, the MK were suppressed in South Africa, but they continued to exists outside of the country, fighting against the Rhodesian army, among other things. 

Mandela was however arrested in 1962, and was first accused of arranging worker strikes and other minor charges, but later on he was also accused of sabotage and guerilla warfare- risking death penalty. Outside of South Africa, Mandela had a huge amount of support- and the trial ended with him being sentenced to life imprisonment.

The MK continued with bombings directed towards the South African government until 1986, killing 130- of these 100 civilians, with over 60 of them being black. In 1994, after the fall of apartheid, the MK was integrated into the South African Army.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting background story to what takes place in the movie Invictus. Lets hope the other students read this!