Nelson Mandela  - Teachoo.png

  • Nelson Mandela was tried for treason against the white South African government .
  • In 1964, he along with seven other leaders was sentenced to life imprisonment for daring to oppose the apartheid regime in his country.
  • He spent 28 years of his life in Robben Island , South Africa's most notorious jail .

Struggle against apartheid

A sign board emblematic of the tense relations of the apartheid era, 1953 - Teachoo.png

  • Apartheid was the system of racial discrimination in South Africa imposed by white Europeans .
  • During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the trading companies from Europe occupied South Africa with arms and force , in the way they occupied India.
  • But unlike India, many “whites” settled in South Africa and became local rulers .
  • This system of apartheid divided people and labelled them based on their skin colour .
  • The native people of South Africa were black and were three-fourths of the total population and were called blacks .
  • There were people of mixed races too who were called “ coloured ” and people who migrated from India .
  • The white rulers treated all non-whites as inferiors . The non-white did not have voting rights .
  • Apartheid was especially oppressive for blacks .
  • They were prohibited from living in white areas .
  • They were allowed to work in white areas only if they have permits .

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  • Trains , buses, taxis, hotels , hospitals, schools and colleges , libraries, cinema halls , theatres, beaches , swimming pools, and public toilets were all separate for whites and blacks . This was called segregation .
  • They were not allowed to enter the churches where white people worshipped .
  • Blacks were not allowed to create associations or protest against the terrible treatment .
  • Since 1950 , many blacks , coloured and Indians have fought against the apartheid system .
  • They launched protest marches and strikes .
  • African National Congress (ANC) became the umbrella organisation that led the struggles against segregation policies .
  • This included workers' unions and the communist party .
  • Many sensitive whites joined the ANC to oppose the apartheid and played a leading role in this struggle .
  • Several countries denounced the apartheid system as racist and unjust but the white government continued to rule by detaining , torturing and killing thousands of black and coloured people .

Towards a new Constitution,

  • As the protests and struggles increased , the government realised that they could no longer keep the blacks under their rule through repression , so they changed their policies .
  • As a result, discriminatory laws were repealed , and bans on political parties and restrictions were lifted .
  • After 28 years of imprisonment , Nelson Mandela walked out of the prison as a free man .
  • On 26 April 1994 midnight , the new national flag of the Republic of South Africa was unfurled marking the newly born democracy in the world.
  • As a result, the apartheid government came to an end , paving the way for a multi-racial government .
  • After the emergence of the new democratic South Africa , the black leaders appealed to fellow blacks to forgive whites for the atrocities that they committed while in power .
  • They wanted to build a new South Africa based on equality of all races and men and women , democratic values , social justice and human rights .
  • The party that ruled through oppression and brutal killings and the party that led the freedom struggle sat together to create a common constitution .
  • After two years of discussion and debate, they came out with the finest constitution in the world.
  • Their constitution gave the most extensive rights to its citizens , available in any country.
  • They together decided that in search of a solution to the problem , no one should be excluded or treated as a demon .
  • They agreed that everyone should become part of the solution , doesn’t matter what they have represented or have done in the past .
  • The Preamble of the South African Constitution sums up this spirit .

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  • The South African Constitution inspires democrats from all over the world .
  • A state condemned by the entire world till 1994 as the most undemocratic state is now seen as the model of democracy .
  • This change was made possible because of the determination of the people of South Africa to work together to transform bitter experiences into the binding glue of a rainbow nation .


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Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 14 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.