Rolihlahla Mandela is the name of the famous South African politician, anti-apartheid protester and former president, known better as Nelson Mandela. He was born on 18 July 1918 in Cape Province, South Africa and belonged to an important family of a local chief. This gave him the opportunity to attend college and become a lawyer. The name Nelson was given to him by his English teacher who also taught him about the inferiority of black people. Mandela never forgot that injustice and some years later he decided to dedicate his life to the fight against inequality, racism and the apartheid. He was inspired by Gandhi’s approach of non-violence and started a series of peaceful protests. When Mandela became the leader of a political party named ANC (African National Congress), he was immediately followed by lots of people who wanted a democratic and free society in South Africa. In 1960 Nelson Mandela’s party became illegal and the government sent him to the Robben Island prison. Despite his life sentence, he did not give up on his fight against the white superiority. Mandela continued to inspire and organise protests even from inside. People loved him, followed him and supported his ideal of a free country where blacks and whites live together in peace.

    During his prison time something tragic happened outside in the town of Soweto. About 20 000 black students went out on the streets to protest against the adoption of the Afrikaans language as a way of instruction in local schools. That event took place on 16 June 1976 and there was a significant number of children who got hurt or even killed.

   The uprising in Soweto and the numerous protests together with the increasing opposition to the apartheid led to the International campaign to free Nelson Mandela which finally succeeded in 1990.

   After 27 years of imprisonment in 1994 Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa.

   He continued to defend his ideal of equality, peace and tolerance. Thanks to his work as a human rights activist Mandela became a symbol of freedom and justice.

   In 1993 he received a Nobel Prize for Peace and on 18 July we celebrate Nelson Mandela day. His name stands next to those of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, the three men who protested in a peaceful way against segregation.




apartheid – it is a South African policy of racial segregation

Afrikaans – is a language spoken by white people in South Africa

segregation separation of a group of people based on their ethnic, racial or religious background

uprising usually violent protest about the established government


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