South Africa And Apartheid Essay

South Africa And Apartheid Essay-26
To the Teacher: Nelson Mandela's death on December 5, 2013, is being marked by people around the world.

To the Teacher: Nelson Mandela's death on December 5, 2013, is being marked by people around the world.Mandela, the former president of the Republic of South Africa and Nobel Peace laureate, spent more than 40 years—27 of them in prison—as a central figure in the struggle against South Africa's brutal and restrictive racial regime called apartheid.Under apartheid, the South African population was divided into four distinct racial groups: white (including Afrikaners, who speak a Germanic language called Afrikaans), black, colored, and Indian.

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Although Europeans first colonized what is now the country of South Africa in the middle of the 17th century, it was not until the 1948 election of the Afrikaner-led National Party that the system of apartheid—with which the nation of South Africa came to be so closely associated for the second half of the 20th century—was formally instated.

While this strict system of racial classification and segregation drew on a variety of existing measures that had limited the rights of non-whites, the 1950s saw a dramatic expansion of discriminatory laws.

While non-whites were confined to squalid ghettoes with few decent educational and employment opportunities, whites were afforded the basic privileges of life in a democracy.

In a 1955 article, Nelson Mandela—then a leading activist in the growing fight against apartheid—described the horrors of the system and the brutal means by which it was enforced: The breaking up of African homes and families and the forcible separation of children from mothers, the harsh treatment meted out to African prisoners, and the forcible detention of Africans in farm colonies for spurious statutory offenses are a few examples of the actual workings of the hideous and pernicious doctrines of racial inequality.

The new leadership of the ANC steered the organization towards a strategy of nonviolent direct action—including strikes, boycotts, and other acts of civil disobedience.

This was known as the "Defiance Campaign." In a 1950 conference that launched the campaign, the ANC-led coalition released a statement saying: All people, irrespective of the national group they belong to and irrespective of the color of their skin, who have made South Africa their home, are entitled to live a full and free life.

In 1943, Nelson Mandela—then a law student—joined the ANC and co-founded its youth division, the ANCYL.

Mandela and other young activists had begun to advocate for a mass campaign of agitation against apartheid.

In addition to being an icon of resistance and perseverance, Mandela was also a symbol of peace, having presided over the transition from apartheid to multiracial democracy and having pursued a plan of national reconciliation.

This exercise invites students to think about the history of apartheid in South Africa, the long struggle against it, and Nelson Mandela's legacy as a leader in that struggle.


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