IAS Target

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Nelson Mandela, full name Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, by name Madiba, (born July 18, 1918, Mvezo, South Africa—died December 5, 2013, Johannesburg), South African nationalist and the country's first black president (1994–99). His early 1990s conversations with South African President F.W. de Klerk helped bring the country's apartheid system to an end and ushered in a peaceful transition to majority rule. Mandela and de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their achievements.

Early life and work

He was the son of the Madiba clan of the Xhosa-speaking Tembu people's Chief Henry Mandela. When Nelson's father died, Jongintaba, the Tembu regent, raised him. Nelson renounced his assertion to the chieftainship to pursue a career as a lawyer. He attended South African Native College (later the University of Fort Hare) and the University of the Witwatersrand, where he studied law and passed the qualifying exam to become a lawyer. In 1944, Nelson joined the African National Congress (ANC), a Black liberation organisation, and rose through the ranks to become a leader of its Youth League. He met and married Evelyn Ntoko Mase the same year. Mandela went on to hold various ANC leadership roles, where he helped revive the movement and combat apartheid policies of the ruling National Party.
Mandela started South Africa's first Black law firm in 1952, in Johannesburg, with fellow ANC leader Oliver Tambo, who specialised in matters arising from post-1948 apartheid legislation. Also that year, Mandela was instrumental in launching a defiance campaign against South Africa's pass laws, which forced nonwhites to carry documentation (known as passes, passbooks, or reference books) authorising their presence in regions deemed "restricted" by the government. As part of the campaign, he toured around the country, attempting to rally support for peaceful ways of protest against the discriminatory laws. In 1955, he was a co-author of the Freedom Charter, a text that advocated for nonracial social democracy in South Africa.
As a result of his anti-apartheid work, Mandela became a regular target of the government. He was occasionally banned beginning in 1952. (Highly restricted in association, speech, and travel). In December 1956, he was detained together with more than 100 other persons on treason allegations intended to harass anti-apartheid campaigners. Mandela went on trial the same year and was acquitted in 1961. Nelson divorced his first wife and married Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela during the lengthy judicial processes (Winnie Madikizela-Mandela).

The Rivonia Trial and Underground Activity

After the police slaughter of unarmed Black South Africans in Sharpeville in 1960, and the consequent banning of the ANC, Mandela abandoned his peaceful position and began promoting acts of sabotage against the South African state. He went underground (at which time he earned the moniker "Black Pimpernel" for his skill to avoid capture) and was a founder member of the ANC's military branch, Umkhonto we Sizwe ("Spear of the Nation"). In 1962, he travelled to Algeria for guerrilla warfare and sabotage training before returning to South Africa later that year. Mandela was captured at a roadblock in Natal on August 5, shortly after his homecoming, and sentenced to five years in jail.
In October 1963, Mandela and many other men were prosecuted for sabotage, treason, and violent conspiracy in the historic Rivonia Trial, named after an affluent neighbourhood of Johannesburg where invading police uncovered tonnes of weaponry and equipment at the subterranean Umkhonto we Sizwe headquarters. Mandela's dockside statement, in which he accepted the validity of some of the allegations levelled against him, was a classic defence of liberty and defiance of oppression. (His speech drew international notice and praise, and it was eventually published as I Am Prepared to Die.) Nelson was condemned to life in prison on June 12, 1964, narrowly avoiding the death penalty.


Nelson was imprisoned on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town, from 1964 to 1982. He was then held in the maximum-security Pollsmoor Prison until 1988 when he was moved to Victor Verster Prison near Paarl after being treated for TB. The South African government extended conditional offers of freedom to Mandela on many occasions, most notably in 1976, on the condition that he acknowledge the newly independent—and very contentious—status of the Transkei Bantustan and agree to dwell there. In 1985, he accepted an offer that asked him to give up his use of violence. Mandela turned down both proposals, the second because only free persons could engage in such conversations, and he was not a free man but a prisoner.
Throughout his imprisonment, Mandela maintained widespread popularity among South Africa's Black population, and his confinement became a cause célèbre among the world community, which criticised apartheid. As South Africa's political situation deteriorated after 1983, notably after 1988, officials in President P.W. Botha's cabinet approached him in exploratory talks; he met with Botha's successor, F.W. de Klerk, in December 1989.
The South African government, led by President de Klerk, freed Mandela from jail on February 11, 1990. Mandela was appointed vice president of the ANC shortly after his release, and he was elected president of the party in July 1991. Mandela led the ANC in discussions with de Klerk to abolish apartheid and lead South Africa to a peaceful transition to nonracial democracy.

Nelson Mandela and the Nobel Peace Prize

Mandela fought tirelessly after his release for a peaceful and democratic South Africa.
He was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. On April 27, 1994, South Africa had its first free election, and Mandela was elected as the country's first non-white democratically elected president. Mandela's message of forgiveness, peace, togetherness and nation-building was propagated and entrenched during his five-year reign.
He invited the spouses and widows of past Prime Ministers and Presidents to tea and made a special excursion to the White Afrikaner enclave of Orania to make a courtesy visit on Betsie Verwoerd, the sick widow of apartheid architect Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, who was slain.
His effort was pragmatic, intending to achieve democracy by ethical methods with the help of individuals from many backgrounds.
Nelson Mandela, known as South Africa's "Grandfather” had the basic traits of a Great Hero. He exemplifies how the human spirit can triumph over hatred and evil by adopting peace and reconciliation.
Even though he first participated in the armed conflict, he chose to settle quietly with his prior persecutors at the first chance since an armed battle was against his nature.
Throughout his life, Mandela displayed physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional courage, and he continued to lead, inspire, and speak out against injustices committed against him and his people. He never placed his safety or well-being first, always putting his people and his actual values first.
When his despotic government convicted him of treason, he bravely stood up, proclaimed his beliefs, and announced that he was willing to die for them. He devoted everything he had to ensure that his ideal of a free and equitable South Africa became a reality.
He encouraged a generation of individuals to believe in themselves and never give up on their dreams. Nelson accomplished what no one thought was possible: a calm negotiated transition to a democratic government. He selflessly dedicated himself and freely suffered for the sake of all South Africans.

India and Nelson Mandela

The Indian government presented Mandela with the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1979.
Mandela thanked the All India Congress and Pandit Nehru's impact on him in his acceptance letter. He liked the All-India Congress's solidarity with the people of Ethiopia while Fascist Italy was devouring the country, as well as its compassion for Republican Spain and the Congress Medical Mission to China in 1938.
He passionately remembered India's anti-apartheid stance at the Asian People's Conference in 1947, Bandung in 1955, Commonwealth debates, and the Non-Aligned Movement everywhere and at all times. Also, visit the website URL provided to learn more about the Bandung Conference.
He also recognised Mahatma Gandhi's importance in South Africa, as well as his beliefs and tactics of fight that shaped the history of the peoples of India and South Africa. He asserted that Mahatma Gandhi created the Natal Indian Congress, South Africa's oldest political organisation, in 1904.

Retirement and the presidency

In April 1994, the Mandela-led African National Congress (ANC) won South Africa's first universal suffrage elections, and on May 10, Mandela was sworn into the office of the country's inaugural multi-ethnic administration. Nelson created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1995 to examine human rights crimes committed under apartheid, and he implemented housing, education, and economic development measures to better the living conditions of the country's Black population. He led the adoption of a new democratic constitution in 1996. Mandela resigned from the ANC in December 1997, handing over leadership to his selected successor, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela and Madikizela-Mandela separated in 1996, and Mandela married Graca Machel, the widow of Samora Machel, former Mozambican president and Frelimo leader.
Mandela did not seek re-election as South African president a second time and was succeeded by Mbeki in 1999. Mandela retreated from active politics after leaving government, but he maintained a significant worldwide presence as an advocate for peace, reconciliation, and social justice, often via the work of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which he founded in 1999. Nelson was a founding member of the Elders, a group of worldwide leaders formed in 2007 to promote global conflict resolution and issue solutions. In honour of Mandela's 90th birthday in 2008, many festivities were held in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and other nations.
Mandela Day, marked on Mandela's birthday, was established to honour his legacy by encouraging global community service. It was first observed on July 18, 2009, and was primarily sponsored by Nelson Mandela Foundation and the 46664 initiative (the foundation's HIV/AIDS global awareness & prevention campaign); later that year, the United Nations (UN) declared the day to be celebrated annually as Nelson Mandela International Day.
United Nations (UN) declared the day to be celebrated annually as Nelson Mandela International Day.


Mandela was a firm believer in democracy and upheld majority choices even when he strongly disagreed with them. He had demonstrated a dedication to democratic and human rights ideals since at least the 1960s. He was motivated by a conviction in natural and human rights, and he believed that "inclusivity, accountability, and freedom of expression" were the pillars of democracy. He admired British-style parliamentary democracy, declaring that "the British Parliamentary system is the greatest democratic system in the world, and the independence and impartiality of its judges never fail to stir my enthusiasm." He also mentioned Ubuntu, an iconic African ethical notion that is a Nguni phrase that means "A person via other people."

Marxism and Socialism

Mandela argued for the ultimate creation of a classless society. According to some professors, he is "openly hostile to capitalism, private property ownership, and the dominance of large money.” Throughout the movement, Mandela was influenced by Marxism and championed scientific socialism. According to historian Stephen Ellis, Mandela had acquired most of Marxist–Leninist thought by 1960.
Mandela's perspective on Western regimes, such as democracy, varied from that of Marxist–Leninists in that he did not feel they were anti-democratic or reactionary, and he remained devoted to democratic forms of administration. The 1955 Freedom Charter, which Mandela helped draught, advocated for the nationalisation of banks, gold mining, and land to promote equitable distribution of wealth. Despite these convictions, Mandela launched a privatisation initiative during his administration, mirroring trends in other nations at the time. Mandela desired to establish a social democratic economy in South Africa, but this was not possible due to the worldwide political and economic environment in the early 1990s. This decision was motivated in part by the early 1990s demise of socialist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc.
Nelson Mandela altered the world in the following ways:
  • Mandela understood from the start that a single individual might be a spark for change. He wasn't scared to be the spark.
  • He refused to abandon his cause or his nation.
  • Mandela exemplified devotion, courage, and self-sacrifice for everyone.
  • He understood that his battle was the struggle of his people and that his struggle was the struggle of his people. But Mandela brought that battle and his message of justice to the rest of the globe.
  • He established a foundation to ensure that his fight for justice and peace could continue.
  • At a critical juncture in South African history, Mandela delivered a game-changing speech in the battle against HIV/AIDS.
  • He knew that, while forgiveness is necessary, history must never forget its dark past.
  • Mandela harnessed his childhood teachings in Ubuntu and passed them on to the rest of the globe.