Nelson Mandela was the first black president of South Africa, a political prisoner, and a vastly known revolutionary. His advances to gain freedom in South Africa was and still is influential to many politicians, activists and revolutionaries throughout time. We will be taking a close look at the life of Mandela, analyzing his use of violence and comparing it to Frantz Fanon’s k0 On Violence chapter from his widely known novel, The Wretched of the Earth, and critiquing the glamorization of passive resistance through Mandela.
Rolihlahla Mandela was born 18 July 1918 into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, South Africa. He was raised by his mother, Nonqaphi Nosekeni, and his father Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela. His father was the principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people. His name, Rolihlahla, means pulling the branch of a tree, but colloquially it means troublemaker. In 1925, he attends school in Qunu, South Africa and his teacher, Miss Mtingane, had asked him what his name was and he gave her his African name, and she refused and asked him again what his Christian name was and he had told her he does not have a Christian name. She had then told him from that day forward his name would be Nelson. In 1930, at just 12 years old, his father passed away from a lung illness.Shortly after, his mother let him go to attend a ritual where a boy becomes a man, this was also called initiation. The king takes him under his wing. Due to his father’s status and living with the king, Nelson was given the best education a black South African could get. He attended middle school at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and went on to Healdtown, a Wesleyan high school. By 1939, Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare but did not complete his degree due to being expelled for joining in on a student protest. On his arrival back to the Palace, the king was furious with him. The king had suggested he ought to be married, Mandela believed he was not ready to be married and so he ran away with his cousin Justice to Johannesburg where they worked as mine security officers. After meeting Walter Sisulu, an estate agent, he was introduced to Lazer Sidelsky. He then did his articles through a firm of attorneys Witkin, Eidelman and Sidelsky.Mandela then begins to informally attend ANC meetings. Finally, in 1943 Mandela completed his BA at the University of South Africa and had decided to go back to Fort Hare for his graduation. In 1944, he helped to form the ANC Youth League (ANCYL). Later on in that year, Mandela fell in love and married Walter Sisulu’s cousin, Evelyn Mase, a nurse. The couple had two sons, Madiba Thembekile “Thembi” and Makgatho, and two daughters both called Makaziwe, the first of whom died in infancy. Evelyn and Mandela’s marriage began to fall apart once he spent a lot of his time with the ANC.
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