Essay on Nelson Mandela

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Nelson Mandela

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Mandela, Nelson Rolihlahla, South Africa's first black president. Mandela was widely revered by blacks throughout Africa as a symbol of black liberation. He gained almost legendary status through the 1980s as South Africa's leading antiapartheid figure, assuming the forefront of the black struggle after his release from prison. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born July 18, 1918 near Umtata in Transkei, in the Eastern Cape, into the royal family of the Tembu, a Xhosa-speaking tribe.

He was educated at a British missionary boarding school and at Fort Hare University, from which he was expelled in 1940 for leading a strike with Oliver Tambo. He returned home, but ran away to Soweto in Transvaal
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He was arrested again on August 5, 1962 and charged with inciting people to strike and with leaving South Africa without a passport. He was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of sabotage and attempting to overthrow the government. While he was in prison, police raided an ANC safe house in Rivonia, a suburb of Johannesburg, as a result of which Mandela and a number of comrades were tried for treason. After first being acquitted in 1963, they were retried in the celebrated Rivonia trial, and in 1964 Mandela and seven comrades were convicted of sabotage and treason and sentenced to life in prison.

Mandela spent the next 27 years in prison, living until 1982 amid the harsh conditions of the maximum security prison on Robben Island. After several years of secret talks that had begun in 1986 with government ministers, Mandela met with Preisident P.W. Botha in July 1989 and with his successor, President F. W. de Klerk, in December of that year. As a result of those talks, he was freed on February 11, 1990.

Following his release, Mandela was appointed deputy president of the ANC. He launched a world tour in June 1990 to persuade Western leaders to maintain economic sanctions against South Africa and to raise funds to help the ANC function as an above-ground political party. Negotiations with the ruling National Party led to the ANC's August 1990 decision to suspend its armed struggle after nearly 30…