Nelson Mandela: Fighter
for Racial and Social Equity
Telephoning South Africa
several times recently and speaking with Nelson Mandela’s
team was exciting. To think that this Nobel Laureate (Peace
Prize 1993) who was incarcerated for 27 years and was now
traveling, had consented to appear in Education Update was
a tribute to the African-Americans
this nation who have
fought for peace and recognition through poetry, law, politics,
and the written word.
Sacrificing his freedom
in the name of democratic
and social principles, Nelson Mandela
has had a tremendous historical impact. From his early youth
he was actively involved in fighting racial discrimination
in South Africa. As a student, he was involved in a protest
of the white minority government’s
withholding of basic rights to South Africa’s vast Black
Receiving his law degree, he opened a law firm, together with
his college friend Oliver Tambo, which provided free oazr low-cost
legal advice to many Black Africans who otherwise would have
been grossly underserviced.
During his years as a student, Mandela began his involvement
with the African National Congress (ANC), an organization promoting
democratic policies in South Africa. He was instrumental in
establishing the ANC Youth League and became its president
Following the implementation
of apartheid laws by the National Party (NP), which assumed
power in 1948, Mandela and other members of the ANC protested
apartheid laws through its Defense Campaign. In response
to NP threats of disbanding the ANC, the “M” plan
was formed. Named after Mandela, the plan resulted in the
organization of smaller ANC units which would encouraged
the earliest participation in the anti-apartheid movement.
activities eventually led to his arrest, first to a five
year sentence in 1956. In 1961 he was acquitted, but was
again arrested in 1962 and sentenced to life imprisonment.
However, during his imprisonment, Mandela covertly engaged
in the struggle against apartheid, releasing a statement
to the ANC, encouraging Africans to come together in the
fight against apartheid.
Following his February
1990 release from prison, he ran for president of South Africa.
He was officially elected in May 1994. During his term, he
introduced the Reconstruction and Development Plan, economically
fostering the creation of jobs, housing and basic healthcare.
Mandela led South Africa’s
shift away from apartheid, which finally ended in 1996. The
newly formed constitution of South Africa in 1996 guaranteed
the rights of minorities and freedom of speech.
contributions to socially equality continue today. The Nelson
Mandela Foundation seeks to improve rural conditions of schools
by soliciting direct accounts of what conditions are like
in the particular rural area.
The Mandela Foundation has helped build over 140 schools.
These Mandela Schools have been the focus of a development
program. One of the objectives is to create centers of excellence
in learning and teaching within communities. The Foundation
strives for a deeper understanding of how rural communities
view education and how they can improve their own lives. The
Foundation tries to bring a deeper understanding between policy
makers and the communities who need their help.#