Biographical Criticism: Nelson Mandela

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“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” (Nelson Mandela’s speech while he was at the court). The first anti-apartheid and black president who fights for his country peace, love and equality in Africa was named Nelson Mandela. By the time of the apartheid came to power, it was hard to think about equality among “black and white” human. But nelson was one of the citizens, who don’t want to see his country people prohibited practice their human right. And as a result, this issue led South Africa to face poverty.

Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in the tiny village of Mvezo, on the banks of the Mbashe River in Transkei, South Africa. His birth name was Rolihlahla Mandela. He was born from his father Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa who was a local chief and councilor to the king and his mother Nonqaphi Nosekeni. He in rolled to Methodist school, where he gets his name English Nelson. Mandela was young, when his father died in 1928. After then, Nelson was taken to the center of Thembu monarchy. Growing there has helped him to develop his black leadership. And later, he goes to the university college of Fort Hare, and studded law in the university of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. In 1994 he joined the African National Congress.

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The national party raised a power in 1948, which was the year where South Africa officially started inequality after falling to Apartheid. That have a constitution “the supremacy of the minority of white population”. Which highly against the right of equality and democracy. Nelson Mandela was sick about this thing, so he was one of the apartheids opposing citizens in South Africa. He was ready to scarify what he has, for his country. because at that time black people where underestimated, they where rejected by the society.

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” (“I Am Prepared to Die”). Between 1948 and 1994, which means the apartheid era, that was led by the National Party, the black majority in South Africa where discriminated not only that they don’t even practice their human right. Democracy varnish during the era of apartheid. Nelson Mandela was unhappy by the victims of armed agent, because he believes in enjoying equality, justice and human right. In other word he doesn’t want to see difference among people based on color, he believes in no one is superior than the other instead every individual is equal. He was ready to give his life and fight against the apartheid, if they keep denying their rights that they have as an individual.

Nelson Mandela once said, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” (June 27, 1990). The Human Rights Education Handbook define human right as, “rights that belong to every individual—man or women, girl or boy, infant or elder—simply because she or he is a human being.” But this right doesn’t work in South Africa while it was under control of apartheid, because the apartheid was “President of color.” The apartheid not only deny the human right there was also lots of rule in their constitution that discriminate black people such as, “Prohibiting marriages between white people and people of other races.” No one was allowed to have relationship with black people, if there is any the apartheid punish who disagree this rule.

Afterward, 1962 Nelson was in court, he was accused because of two reason, the first he was encouraging people to stay at home and the second was he was leaving South Africa without valid passport. Matter of fact no one was helping him he was his own defence. Nelson Mandela used a fake Ethiopian passport to travel throughout the world and get support for the anti-apartheid movement. He was not applying for real passport in his country is because the harsh treatment of blacks and they were not allowed to live their country like the others. So, he didn’t want to waste his time applying for passport. Because of this reason, he issued his passport from Ethiopia, by using fake name David.

However, he didn’t believe that he was guilty about the passport because his movement was not for escaping from South Africa. His main goal was to collect power that can help him to bring equality to his country. In his tour he traveled to some African countries and also London. He said, “For the first time in my life I was a free man, I went I was treated like a human being.” (First court statement-1962). One of his biggest wishes everyone in South Africa should enjoy it. But Mandela didn’t stay there to feed his own comfort, but all his efforts where to bring that sense to South African.

After long conversation in the court, Nelson was not able to defend him self from the court decision, even if he was trying to ensure that he should not be accused by any of the reasons. The court decided as Mandela guilty person and sentence it for those reasons. They use their power to put him in jail, for the reason the action against the apartheid. The hardest thing no one was able to help him because the black doesn’t have the right to speak what we call as our democratic right.

Years passed nothing was changed in South Africa, but everything has its own time to change. As CBC news reported “the father of South Africa after many struggles, he walked out of jail after 27 years six month and six days. More than quarter of million people came to Cape Town, South Africa to welcome him.” It was a great moment expecting south Africa will be changing after Mandela came to power following the downfall of the apartheid. Everyone was in hunger of equality, democracy, justice. So, Nelson became hope to South Africa to satisfy the people with democracy.

After nelson starts to control south Africa came to changes, “the ‘Black underclass’ has grown significantly larger. In regard to accomplishing social progress, the program has largely failed to raise most Black South Africans out of poverty.” (Germain 451). “Develop program known GEAR which embraced the free market religion. And the new program sought to improve South Africa’s economic condition.” (“South African’s Key Economic Politics”). Therefore, when the apartheid varnish it optimizes the development of South Africa.

After all the hero of South Africa, the man who fights for equality the reason for south Africa globalization, goes to the world that he can’t never come back. CNN reports Mandela died in December 5, 2013 at the age of 95. It was hard sorrow for his family, not only for his family, but also throughout the world. Nelson said on death “Death is something inevitable when a man has done what he considers to be his duty.” ( Editors 2009). He can be a model for lots of, how should one citizen scarify for his/her country. We can change our world by living together with Peace and Love. It is true, there are lots of computation and difference in our life, but it should not to underestimate other and making other superior. Instead of that, let’s accept our difference as our quality and respect the others too. If an individual wants to be respected, he/she should respect the other side.


  1. Germain, Felix. “‘Presidents of Color,’ Globalization, and Social Inequality.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 40, no. 3, 2010, pp. 445–461. JSTOR,
  2. Editors. “Nelson Mandela.”, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009,
  3. “‘I Am Prepared to Die.’” Nelson Mandela Foundation, 20 Apr. 2011,
  4. “South Africa’s Key Economic Policies Changes (1994 – 2013).” South African History Online,

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