Biography of President of South Africa Nelson Mandela

Table of Content

In 1994, Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South Africa. He was elected by the country’s National Assembly, which was chosen in the inaugural elections that granted voting rights to the black population. With a majority of seats held by blacks, Mandela’s presidency represented a new era for South Africa. These significant events marked the end of white minority rule and empowered the black community.

Starting in 1991, Nelson Mandela became the president of the African National Congress (ANC), a predominantly black group that opposed South Africa’s policy of racial segregation known as apartheid (Connolly 2000, 45). Before assuming this role, Mandela played a significant part in protests against apartheid and was imprisoned in 1962 for planning to overthrow the white-minority government. His time in prison turned him into a symbol for the fight for racial equality. After being released in 1990, he engaged in negotiations with white leaders that ultimately led to the end of apartheid and the establishment of a nonracial governmental system (Katz 1995, 103).

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

In 1993, Nelson Mandela and President F. W. de Klerk of South Africa were both honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for their combined endeavors in terminating apartheid and encouraging nonwhite involvement in government (Dell 1995, 180).

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, born in Umtata, South Africa’s Transkei territory, was the son of a chief from the Xhosa-speaking Tembu tribe. Instead of following his father’s path to become a chief, Mandela decided to pursue a career in law. He attended University College of Fort Hare and studied law through correspondence at Witwatersrand University. In 1942, he graduated with a law degree from the University of South Africa. During that same year, Mandela co-founded the first black law partnership in South Africa alongside a close friend (Conolly 2000, 99).

Nelson Mandela joined the ANC in 1944 and played a key role in establishing its Youth League. However, apartheid was officially implemented by the South African government in 1948. In response, the ANC actively opposed the government and advocated for equal rights for all races.

In 1956, Mandela faced charges of treason and other serious offenses. However, he was acquitted in 1961. Despite the government’s ban on the ANC in 1960, Mandela continued leading protests and went into hiding.

In 1963, Nelson and Winnie Mandela were awakened by South African police one night who subsequently arrested Nelson. He was later sentenced to life imprisonment and transferred to Robben Island, an extremely secure prison believed to be impossible to escape from.

From 1983 to 1984, there was a significant public outcry for the liberation of Nelson Mandela, evident in headlines such as FREE MANDELA and LET MANDELA GO. This widespread support drew the attention of nations like the United States and Great Britain, who even honored him by naming streets and parks after him. Furthermore, numerous human rights organizations and universities recognized his efforts through honors and awards (Conolly 2000, 155). Only in 1984 did a reporter finally have the chance to personally meet Nelson Mandela.

Nelson was offered his freedom in 1985 by President Botha, but he refused it. Botha required Nelson to meet certain conditions, including living in the Transkei region and publicly renouncing violence. Despite the offer, Nelson declined (Steoff 1990 168).

In 1989, Botha was replaced as the president of South Africa by F.W. de Klerk. In 1990, de Klerk made several remarkable announcements: The ANC and sixty other organizations would be granted legal operations. The lifting of restrictions on three hundred and seventy-four individuals was imminent. Executions would be temporarily halted. The national state of emergency would soon be lifted. The government was dedicated to implementing a new constitution that ensures no domination. Additionally, de Klerk stated, “I am now in a position to announce that Mr. Nelson Mandela will be released at Victor Verster Prison. . . . We would like Mr. Mandela’s release to take place in a dignified and orderly manner” (Derenberg 1991, 190).

Nelson Mandela, imprisoned for 27 years, was released on Sunday, February 11, 1990 at 4:15.

Following his release from prison, Nelson Mandela made the decision to bring an end to the armed campaign conducted by the ANC against the South African government. Despite facing opposition from certain radical members of the ANC, Mandela actively promoted reconciliation with President de Klerk and other officials within the South African government. His objective was to attain political empowerment for the black community through peaceful means (Katz 1995, 99).

In 1990 and 1991, the government abolished the laws that established apartheid, including those that prevented black individuals from voting in national and provincial elections. Mandela played a role in negotiating an end to these forms of racial injustice. In April 1994, the first fully inclusive national elections were held in which all races were able to participate. The ANC emerged victorious, securing the majority of seats in the National Assembly and resulting in Mandela’s presidency (Conolly 2000, 145).

After being released in 1990, Mandela took on a crucial role as ANC president in the negotiation process that brought about the end of apartheid. In 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside South African President F.W. de Clerk. At the age of 75, Mandela himself was elected president a year later. On December 10, 1996, amidst chants of “Power to the people!”, Mandela signed the new constitution of the country which encompassed extensive guarantees for human rights and anti-discrimination.

In June 1999, Mandela resigned from his position as president after preparing Deputy President Thabo Mbeki to succeed him. Despite South Africa still grappling with racial animosity, extreme poverty, and alarming levels of violence, Mandela remains the most respected figure in the nation. He is acknowledged for orchestrating an extraordinary shift from oppression to democratic governance and for his dedication to fostering reconciliation, which prevented the country from descending into a brutal bloodbath.

After divorcing his high-profile wife Winnie Madikizela in 1996, Nelson Mandela remarried on his 80th birthday in July 1998. His new wife was Graca Machel, who was widowed by former Mozambican president Samora Machel. Mandela had plans to enjoy the peace and freedom he had worked his whole life to achieve after retiring. He intended to live in his native Eastern Cape village, spend time with his wife and grandchildren, and write his memoirs (Conolly 2000, 199).

Cite this page

Biography of President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. (2018, Jul 12). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront