There have been many great historic leaders throughout time, none of which spent 27 years of their life locked away in a cell for fighting for what they believed in. Nelson Mandela was a leader with strong beliefs and willing to take on anything for his people. Mandela was not only a leader, but true to his friends and family growing up. He was also fortunate enough to be educated throughout his early life. Mandela eventually got politically involved with the African National Congress. His leadership and political involvement with the African National Congress led him to face further consequences of being in prison. On July 18, 1918 the great leader was born by the name of Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela. His mother, Nosekeni, gave birth to him in the small village of Mvezo in South Africa. Ironically, the name Rolihlahla means “troublemaker” or even “pulling the branch of the tree”. At the age of seven Rolihlahla had changed his name to Nelson after a teacher at his primary school had given it to him. The name Nelson came with a whole new meaning, “son of a champion”. This being said, Nelson didn’t have the opportunity to grown up and learn too much from his father. As a matter of fact, Nelson’s father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, passed away when Nelson was only 12 years old. Jongintaba Dalindyebo became Nelson’s father-figure/guardian after his father’s passing. The majority of Nelson’s childhood took place in Qunu when being raised by Jongintaba. Jongintaba was the chief of Paramount and the Thembu tribe during this time, so you can imagine that he kept Nelson focused and in check. By the age of 16, Nelson was attending Clarkebury Boarding Institute in Engcobo located near the Eastern Cape Province. This is where he learn the basics of education to ensure him on the right path to be able to attend college. After graduating from high school, Nelson continued pursuing an education by enrolling in Healdtown Wesleyan College located in Fort Beaufort. While attending the University Nelson took part in a student protest and political activist movement on campus, which resulted in him being expelled from the school. After being expelled from college, Jongintaba arranged a marriage for Nelson, but having other plans in mind Nelson fled in order not to be married and then arrived in Johannesburg in 1941. After residing in Johannesburg for some time, Nelson met an estate agent by the name of Walter Sisulu who helped him get a job at a law firm for Witkin, Eidelman, and Sidelsky. By 1943 he finally completed his Bachelor’s degree through the University of South Africa, and was able to partake in Fort Hare’s graduation. Prior to starting his political career, Nelson campaigned against the bus prices being increased.The African National Congress was established 32 years before Nelson Mandela started his involvement. In 1912, chiefs, representatives, church organizations and other locals all gathered to form the African National Congress in order to bring all Africans together as a whole to stand up and defend their rights of freedom. Africans were being slaved hard during this time era and things were changing fast in South Africa. Diamonds and Gold were discovered in the late 1860’s so mine bosses were very eager to dig up as much of these materials as possible forcing more people to work than they usually would. Laws were constantly being changed and enforced during the early 1900’s. The Land Act came into motion in 1913 which prevented Africans from purchasing or even renting land unless it was within their reversed areas. This Act destroyed many communities leaving people homeless, hungry, and over crowded in their reserve areas.With new laws constantly being put into action, people were constantly forced into working in the mines or slaving away on white farms. Most of the workers were immigrants and settled in cities like Johannesburg. These immigrants would travel to work for a whole year and then go back to see their families. Traveling wasn’t easy for black people either, Pass Laws were being enforced. Pass Laws required black people to have a specific passbook in order to travel through white areas in South Africa. These Pass Laws also made sure that black people had to either work in the mines or on white farms, along with keeping them from fleeing their jobs or rebelling. Soon enough by 1920, The African National Congress put together a militant strike by the mineworkers as a way of protesting against passing laws. As the 1920’s went on government laws became harsher and more racist leaving blacks from obtaining high skill set jobs and lowering their wages. The African National Congress elected J.T. Gumede as their new president in 1927, but only lasted 3 years before being voted out of office. After this time the African National Congress wasn’t as active as usual and racism continued to intensify against black people in South Africa through the 1940’s. Nelson Mandela launched his political career and officially joined the African National Congress in 1944. Within the same year at the age of 26, Mandela and his long-life friends from college, Tambo and Sisulu, found their own youth branch of the African National Congress (ANC) named The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). Mandela truly believed the only way to make a difference was to stand up with mass amounts of people putting forth their own efforts. Therefore, the Youth League stood up to remove all racism in South Africa against their rights and freedom. By 1947 Nelson Mandela had managed to already move up to leadership in the Nation African Congress and continued to climb his way through the racks in the ANCYL. Four years later Nelson Mandela was elected president of the African National Congress Youth League and helped the ANC develop the Defiance Campaign. This Defiance Campaign was developed to be a non-violent resistance against any type of discriminating laws that were being implemented at the time, which ended up with Mandela and 19 others being charged with statutory communism. Due to the charge, they were sentence 9 months of hard labor. By the time the sentencing was over Mandela had already created small underground operations that were part of the African National Congress and opened the first black law partnership in South Africa. In 1957 Nelson Mandela and 155 others ended up getting arrested for their actions of protesting and weren’t acquitted until four years later. Prior being acquitted, Nelson public burned his passing book and the African National Congress then was banned from South Africa. As the 1960’s came around the corner, tensions for the African Nation Congress were getting very hot due taking more militant actions such as bombing government structures and fighting with arm weapons which led to Mandela receiving a lot of exposure in his position.This being said, Mandela fled South Africa in order to help provide more support for the African National Congress. The CIA eventually was able to catch up to him and arrested Mandela for illegally abandoning the country which then resulted to five years in prison. In 1963 Mandela and nine other appealed in court to due being charged with two counts of sabotage and these were know as the Rivonia Trials. During these trials the defense team informed Nelson Mandela and the nine others with him that they should assume the worst, meaning the death penalty. With that being said, all ten of them still pleaded not guilty to their charges. By 1964, eight of the ten being charged were sentenced to life in prison and seven were then sent off to Robben Island to make a new home in a cell. Mandela was classified as a “Class D” prisoner which meant he was in a cell with the worse prisoners. Robben Island itself was known for being very harsh and imprisoning political opposers. Over Mandela’s years in prison his mother passed and first born son both passed away, but he continued to stay strong and stick to his beliefs. He was also offered “conditional” freedom multiples times if he would stop political violence but continued to deny all offers and stick to what he believed was right.On February 11, 1990 Nelson Mandela was finally unconditionally released from prison and was elected President of the African National Congress. Four years later, Mandela was able to vote for the first time and voted for himself, and then ended up being elected President of South Africa. With his strong ability of being true and committed to his people, friends and family, this as a result made him an outstanding leader. Nelson Mandela not only left a huge mark in the history of South Africa, but also impacted the entire world.
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