f.w. de klerk

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February 11th 1990: Mandela released

On this day in 1990, the South African activist and politician Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Mandela had spent twenty-seven years in prison for his role as an anti-apartheid activist at the head of Umkhonto we Sizwe, which translates as Spear of the Nation. The controversial organisation served as the militant armed wing of the African National Congress political party, born out of a frustration among anti-apartheid activists that their non-violence was met with brutality by white authorities against black citizens. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to life in prison, during which time he was largely condemned as a terrorist by Western nations. He served most of his twenty-seven years on Robben Island, then Victor Verster Prison near Cape Town, and during his imprisonment his reputation grew as a significant black leader both in South Africa and internationally. Mandela was finally freed after the ban on the ANC was lifted by the apartheid government. Upon his release, Mandela led the ANC in the successful negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to end apartheid, and was overwhelmingly elected President of South Africa in the first multi-racial elections in 1994, serving until 1999. In 2013, Nelson Mandela died aged 95 and has been mourned around the world as a hero who fought for freedom in South Africa, and as a symbol of resistance for oppressed peoples everywhere.

“Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.”

Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, near the South African town of Qunu. He lived a fairly prosperous life as a child, attending private schools and then college. He finished college while working as a law clerk in Johannesburg.⠀
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After the elections in 1948, the apartheid political system became the law of the land in South Africa. Under this system, the country was divided along racial lines, with one area known as White South Africa, another as Black South Africa, and so on. Everything having to do with government, including voting, education and so forth, was divided along racial lines. As a result, whites controlled every aspect of the South African government.⠀
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Mandela started working peacefully against apartheid, but he was arrested for the first time in 1956, accused of treason along with 150 others. All were eventually set free, but the arrest had an effect. By the 1960s, influenced by his time in prison and other events like the Sharpeville Massacre, Mandela’s peaceful ideas changed. He led an armed resistance that used techniques such as the destruction of government property to fight against apartheid. It was for these acts that he was arrested and imprisoned in 1962.⠀
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Why did Mandela get so much attention? Part of it has to do with Mandela’s leadership position in the armed struggle. But another part of it has to do with his wife, Winnie Mandela. While Nelson was in prison, Winnie campaigned very publicly for his release, and her pleas resonated around the world.⠀
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The breakthrough came in 1989, when then-president P.W. Botha lost his office due to a stroke he suffered. Botha’s replacement, F.W. De Klerk, released Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990. De Klerk then oversaw the dismantling of the apartheid system. De Klerk and Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their combined efforts to end apartheid.⠀
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Because Mandela had so much public recognition in 1994’s new democratic South Africa, he was elected president in the first free election. https://www.instagram.com/p/BWtYEbgFply/

A South African infantryman during the Border War, in the 1980s. By the end of the ‘80s, South Africa had been involved in combating SWAPO and its aliies for two whole decades, and finally in 1988 negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union began, leading to the removal of Soviet/Cuban support in Angola in exchange for the eventual withdrawal of South African troops from Namibia.

Under UN direction, Namibia was put on the path to independence, and on March 21, 1990, Pres. F.W. de Klerk officially handed off Namibia to the newly elected Sam Nujoma of SWAPO.

(Collection of HR Heitman)

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August 5th 1962: Nelson Mandela arrested

On this day in 1962, the famous South African activist Nelson Mandela was arrested. Mandela was previously arrested in 1956 on treason charges, but was acquitted and forced underground for several years. In 1961, Mandela helped to found Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), which served as the militant armed wing of the African National Congress political party, born out of frustration among anti-apartheid activists that their non-violence was met with brutality by white authorities against black citizens. He was arrested in August 1962 for inciting a workers’ strike and leaving the country illegally, and in November was sentenced to five years in prison, despite protests from anti-apartheid activists. A year later, authorities found more evidence of Mandela’s involvement in the violence of Umkhonto we Sizwe, and his sentence was increased to life imprisonment, avoiding a death sentence. While imprisoned on Robben Island, Nelson Mandela was largely condemned as a terrorist by Western nations, and he spent his time in jail performing hard labour. By the 1980s, a movement campaigning for his release was gaining traction, and Mandela’s reputation grew as a significant black leader both in South Africa and internationally. After twenty-seven years in prison, Mandela was finally freed in 1990, after the ban on the ANC was lifted by the government of President F.W. de Klerk, who was beginning to dismantle apartheid. Upon his release, Mandela led the ANC in the successful negotiations with President de Klerk to end apartheid, and was overwhelmingly elected President of South Africa in the first multi-racial elections in 1994, serving until 1999.

“When my sentence has been completed I will still be moved, as men are always moved, by their consciences; I will still be moved by my dislike of the race discrimination against my people when I come out from serving my sentence, to take up again, as best I can, the struggle for the removal of those injustices until they are finally abolished once and for all”
- Mandela during his 1962 trial

Morehouse College Turns to Crowdfunding to Refurbish 37-Year-Old King Chapel

Morehouse College Turns to Crowdfunding to Refurbish 37-Year-Old King Chapel

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Exterior of chapel. Step inside the King Chapel at Morehouse College, and you enter a space steeped in history, legacy and culture. (more…)

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December 6, 2014

Today We Honor Nelson Mandela

‘Nelson R. Mandela, political activist and President of South Africa, was born at Mvezo, a village in Umtata, Transkei, South Africa, on July 18, 1918.’ Becoming actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his 20s, Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1942. For 20 years, he directed a campaign of peaceful, non-violent defiance against the South African government and its racist policies. In 1993, Mandela and South African President F.W. de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to dismantle the country’s apartheid system. In 1994, Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president.’

(photo: Nelson R. Mandela)

- CARTER Magazine