Mandela, and frustrated him a great deal; however one needs to look at three other distinct events in his life which led to his becoming more of a nationalist than the average frustrated black African. First, and perhaps the most influential of these three influences is that of a new division that was forming within the African National Congress. The leadership of the ANC had been using methods that had been for the most part ineffective. This old leadership would challenge apartheid by trying to work through the constitution, and petitioning the government that was in place (Mandela 84). A man named Anton Lembede led younger and more energetic members of the ANC, including Mandela (Mandela 84).
After reading about what Mandela has to say about Lembede, it is easy to see how he had a profound impact on the nationalistic ideals held by Mandela. Regarding Lembede, Mandela says, Lembede’s views struck a chord in me. I, too, had been susceptible to paternalistic British colonialism and the appeal of being perceived by whites as cultured and progressive and civilized (85). Lembede’s view that struck a chord in Mandela was that all of these ideas of being accepted by whites were not of the right thinking. Mandela is very blunt about the feelings of Lembede and how he felt about them when he writes, Like Lembede, I came to see the antidote as militant African nationalism (85).
In 1944 Lembede, Mandela, Tambo, and several other influential black South Africans formed the Youth League of the ANC (Mandela 87). This group was based on principles very similar to those held by Lembede. The main theme held by the ANCYL was that, We believe that the national liberation of Africans will be achieved by Africans themselves. The Congress Youth League must be the brain-trust and power-station of the spirit of African nationalism (Mandela 87).
With this as their mission statement, the ANCYL was more of a grassroots organization focused on promoting the participation of the masses for the first time. The group stressed the idea of Africa being a black man’s continent, and that the black South Africans needed to take what was rightfully theirs (Mandela 84-85). After looking at these ideals stressed by Lembede and the ANCYL one can easily see where Mandela got his nationalistic ideals of pride in being African, the need for involvement of the African masses in their own liberation, and the idea that Africa is for black people and belongs to black people. After looking at the influence Lembede and the ANCYL had on Mandela, the next major influence on Mandela is a bit of a surprising one.
In 1946 the South African government passed the Asiatic Land Tenure Act (Mandela 90). This act placed many restrictions on Indians, including where they could live and trade, as well as their rights to attain property (Mandela 90). When referring to the impact that the act had on him, Mandela says, That same year (1946), another event (Asiatic Land Tenure Act) forced me to recast my whole approach to political work (90). After hearing the effect this event had on Mandela, one must wonder why this event had such a profound impact on Mandela’s thinking.
After all, he was an African nationalist, why did he pay so much attention to something that was happening to the Indians? The answer to this question lies in the methods used by the Indians in responding to the act. In response to the act, the two major Indian organizations, The Transvaal Indian Congress and the Natal Indian Congress began a concentrated two-year effort against the repression (90). In his book Mandela speaks of how the masses were involved, and how housewives, doctors, lawyers, craftspeople, etc. gave up their entire life for two years to offer their resistance (90).
It now becomes obvious to see how Mandela was inspired by this event, and he alludes to this in his book as well. Mandela says, The Indian campaign became a model for the type of protest that we in the Youth League were calling for. It instilled a spirit of defiance and radicalism among the people, broke the fear of prison, and boosted the popularity and influence of the NIC and TIC (90-91). In other words, it was now seen what type of methods of resistance must replace the old ways of the ANC, people must be more dedicated and more willing to suffer and sacrifice. Simple speeches were not enough anymore (91). By analyzing the events that ensued after the passing of the Asiatic Land Tenure Act, one can easily see how it shaped the political mindset of Nelson Mandela.
Besides the impact of Lembede and the Asiatic Land Tenure Act, the third major event that formed Mandela as a political activist and a nationalist was the election of 1948. This election pitted the United Party, which was in power at the time, against the National Party (Mandela 96). Although the United Party did not treat the blacks particularly well, they were rather mild compared to the National Party (96-97). The platform of the National Party was the idea, and programs of apartheid, which was discussed earlier in the paper. The main ideology held by the Nationalist Party was that blacks were inferior to whites, and that the white man should always have control over blacks (97). Eventually, the Nationalist Party, led by Dr.
Daniel Malan, won the election of 1948, and this came as a great shock to the entire country (97). One would expect the black South Africans to be devastated by this outcome; however they were not. After hearing news of the election, Mandela’s partner Oliver Tambo said, I like this. Now we will know exactly who our enemies are and where we stand (Mandela 97). Put differently, the new threat from the state allowed for the ANC to become more united on the ideal that some drastic new actions had to be taken (99).
So by looking at the implications of the results of the election of 1948, we can see how it led to further understanding that more nationalist/activist actions had to be taken by Mandela and the ANC. Now that the laws Mandela faced, tactics he used, and his nationalist influences have been discussed, one must now analyze what kind of an impact Nelson Mandela had on his people and the world. Nelson Mandela spent twenty-seven years of his life in prison. After Mandela was released, the people of South Africa let him know what kind of impact he had on them in a rally on February 11, 1990 (PolyGram Video).
The masses expressed what Mandela had meant to them in a song entitled, Father of our Nation (PolyGram Video). Some of the lyrics of the song are, You shaped our destiny, for many years we waited for you. Oh Mandela, son of Africa, Father of our freedom, Spirit of our Love (PolyGram Video). Hearing this quote, one can see the extreme gratitude the people of South Africa felt towards Nelson Mandela. Black South Africans understand that it was Mandela and his nationalist yet peaceful agendas that achieved freedom for them. Finally the song shows how dedicated the people were to Mandela, and how they did not forget about him while he was imprisoned.
Mandela was conditioned from a young age to be a figure of great impact to his people. Even as a child, Mandela was groomed by the Paramount Chief of his tribe to eventually hold a position of leadership (ANC web). From his upbringing, Mandela was taught a strict work ethic, and learned the value of dedication (ANC web). Obviously, this dedication served Mandela well in his attempt to impact the lives of his people. Mandela makes his audience aware of his dedication to the freedom struggle when he says, You can see that there is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountain tops of our desire (ANC web).
This quote comes from Mandela’s address to the ANC Transvaal Congress in 1953, and shows the dedication he was willing to put forth to the freedom struggle (ANC web). It was because of this dedication that Mandela was able to unite the masses in a fight for freedom, and eventually bring apartheid and the government of the National Party to an end. By bringing about the end of apartheid, Mandela’s nationalist tactics have had a profound impact on the lives of his fellow Africans, and blacks can now have an opportunity to succeed and prosper in South Africa. To conclude this paper, I would like to analyze the impact Mandela, as a nationalist, had on people around the world. To do so, I will talk about what I learned from Nelson Mandela while doing my research.
While researching Mandela, I came across a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the quote said, I will stand here for humanity I think this quote is an excellent explanation of how I now see Mandela. Mandela’s efforts to overturn apartheid can really be admired by all of humanity, not just because he was dedicated to overthrow an evil system, but because of the manner in which he did so. One important idea to me was the fact that Mandela was against bigotry of any kind, and he was not just concerned about his own people. One quote which I found to be very moving explains Mandela’s effort to end racism, and Mandela’s quote says, I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunity (Mandela 5). This dedication to democracy, and loving your fellow man is something that I believe should be applied throughout the world.
I also am able to really admire Mandela for the love he expressed to those who were repressing him, as well as the fact that he combated violence with non-violence. The fact that Mandela went about his nationalist efforts in way that would do the least to damage race relations is very admirable. The world has recognized Mandela’s work in this area as well by rewarding him with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 (Britannica web). None of Mandela’s goals would have been accomplished if it were not for Mandela’s aforementioned dedication, as well as his willingness to sacrifice. These too are qualities for which Mandela must be greatly admired. For those throughout the world fighting repression, Mandela can serve as an example of the action necessary to triumph in struggle.
Because of his democratic attitude, and determination, I believe that Mandela truly does stand here on earth for humanity, as an example of what we should all strive for. Bibliography Works Cited Benson, Mary. Nelson Mandela: The Man and the Movement. WW Norton & Company; New York: 1986.
http://anc.org.za.html http://www.eb.com http://www.geocities.com/apartheid.html Mandela, Nelson. Long Walk to Freedom. Little Brown and Co.; New York: 1994. One Nation, One Country. Phelps-Stokes Institute for African, African American, and Indian Affairs; New York: 1998 (Mandela quotes xi-5). Video: MANDELA Son of Africa, Father of a Nation PolyGram Video New York: 1996.