Nelson Mandela’s fight for freedom
Nelson Mandela's political path began in 1944 when he and 5 comrades formed the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League.
Mandela was appointed league president and in 1952, elected national volunteer-in-chief of the ANC's Defiance Campaign, a mass civil disobedience campaign against discriminatory legislation. This was the start of his resistance against oppressive apartheid laws.
The years that followed were marked with Mandela being arrested, banned and imprisoned, but also with significant contributions to the freedom struggle. Mandela emerged a leader, fighting forced removals and Bantu Education, and popularising the Freedom Charter.
In 1956, Mandela – along with 155 other freedom fighters – was arrested and charged with high treason. The so-called Treason Trial eventually collapsed, but not before the ANC was banned. The party continued its work underground, with Mandela at the helm.
The ANC then established its armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) with Mandela as it's commander in chief.
Shortly after, Mandela was charged with illegal exit from the country and incitement to strike, convicted and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. During this time, the MK headquarters were discovered and Mandela, along with 9 others, was charged with sabotage.
This prompted the Rivonia Trial, during which Mandela famously declared he was prepared to die for his ideal of a democratic and free society. Mandela and 7 co-accused were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
While in prison, Mandela refused to renounce the armed struggle, but did initiate talks with the government that would pave the way for future negotiations. Following these later discussions, the ANC was unbanned and Mandela released from prison.
In 1991, Mandela was elected ANC president and talks between the party and the ruling National Party began in earnest, culminating in the country's first democratic election in 1994 and Mandela's inauguration as president.
Nelson Mandela will forever be remembered for his humility, empathy and unwavering efforts towards South African liberation.