South Africa was ruled by a white minority government for much of the past 200 years. Although blacks made up over 75 percent of the populace, whites owned most of the property, ran most of the businesses, and controlled virtually all of the country’s resources. Moreover, blacks did not have the right to vote and often worked under horrible conditions for little or no wages. Seeing the frustration of his people, Nelson Mandela spent 50 years working to overturn white minority rule. He started by organizing the African National Congress, a nonviolent organization that protested white rule through work stoppages, strikes, and riots. Several whites were killed in the early riots, and in 1960 the police killed or injured over 250 blacks in Sharpeville. Unrest over the Sharpeville incident cause 95 percent of the black workforce to go on strike for two weeks, and the country declared a state of emergency. Mandela then orchestrated acts of sabotage to further pressure the South African government to change. The organization targeted installations and took special care to ensure no lives were lost in the bombing campaign. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and spent the next 27 years in prison. While in prison he continued to promote civil unrest and majority rule, and his cause eventually gained international recognition. He was offered but turned down a conditional release from prison in 1985. After enormous international and internal pressure, South African President F.W. de Klerk “unbanned” the ANC and unconditionally released Nelson Mandela from prison. Nonetheless, South Africa remained in turmoil, and in 1992 four million workers went on strike to protest white rule. Because of this pressure, Mandela forced de Klerk to sign a document outlining multiparty elections. Mandela won the 1994 national election and was the first truly democratically elected leader of the country. 

SOURCE: M. Fatima, Higher than Hope: The Authorized Biography of Nelson Mandela (New York: Harper & Row, 1990); S. Clark, Nelson Mandela Speaks: Forming a Democratic, Nonracist South Africa (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1993). Taken from Richard L. Hughes, Robert C. Ginnet and Gordon J. Curphy, LEADERSHIP – Enhancing the Lessons of Experience, New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2002, page 403.

Jakarta, 24 January 2014

This entry was posted in GREAT MILITARY & POLITICAL LEADERS - IN ENGLISH and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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