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By OldRajans NA on 10/27/2011 1:01 AM

Nelson Mandela was born in 1918 in Umatata in South Africa as the son of a Thembu chief named Henry Mandela. He entered the university of Fort Hare in which he got involved in politics against racial segregation. He was expelled to degree in Law.

In 1944 he established the African National Congress Youth club and began a campaign called the Defiance Campaign against white supremacy. Here its members all over the country formed into small groups and disobeyed the apartheid laws. Mandela and other leaders continued this struggle of civil disobedience and was charged with treason in 1956. But he was acquitted after a five year trail.

Mandela who had been following a non violence strategy changed his tactics and sounght to use force and violent activities by establishing a military wing to the ANC. Then the ANC was banned. Mandela was put in to trail again with his colleagues and was sentenced for a life imprisonment. This trail is known as Revonia Trail.

He was held in Robben Island for 18 years harsh conditions, but he was able to continue his antiapartheid campaign secretly. It is in prison that Mandela wrote his autobiography “Long walk to Freedom” in 1994. Later Mandela was transferred to Pollsmore Prison near Cape Town.

Many western countries demanded his release and there was much pressure locally too. As a result he was released in 1990. Once out of prison he assumed the leadership of the ANC, but there were much differences between the white South Africans and the Blacks. It is Mandela who resolved the conflicts and established a federal system of government with a strong central rule. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this. He became the first black President after multi-racial elections held in 1994

Under its new constitution Mandela introduce many development plans which included creations of jobs, health care and housing schemes. The constitution guaranteed rights of minorities and freedom of speech. He made South Africa one of the most developed countries in the world. His presidency came to an end in June 1999.

Sahan Wijethunge
Dharmaraja College

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