News / Africa

Mandela’s Youthful Rebellion Ends in Spirit of Forgiveness

Mandela’s Youthful Rebellion Ends in Spirit of Forgivenessi
X
December 11, 2013 12:08 AM
When the world mourns Nelson Mandela at his funeral this weekend, few will remember that early on, the father of the modern South African nation was feared and condemned by many nations for advocating violence. VOA’s Mary Motta has the story from London.
Mary Motta
When the world mourns Nelson Mandela at his funeral this weekend, few will remember that early on, the father of the modern South African nation was feared and condemned by many nations for advocating violence.

When he was young, Mandela had a rebellious streak.  He was a founding member of the Youth League of the African National Congress, combating apartheid at a young age.

In 1961, he founded and became co-chairman of the ANC's military wing.    

Its tactics included bombing power plants, military installations, and transportation lines.

Nevertheless, the newly formed human rights group Amnesty International began supporting Mandela. It sent observers to South Africa, where more Mandela, among more than 150 people, were accused of treason. All were found not guilty.

Steve Crawshaw of Amnesty International shares a letter Mandela wrote to Amnesty in 1962 thanking the group for its support and assistance.

But, Amnesty ended Mandela’s status as a prisoner of conscience when he advocated violence against the apartheid government.  

“There was an anguished set of discussions within Amnesty as the admiration for Mandela was still there," Crenshaw said. "But the bottom line of the principle of prisoner of conscience was always, is, and always will be absolute non-violence. So there was a great deal of consensus, but a great deal of anguish.”

In 1962, Mandela was convicted of conspiracy and he began serving a life sentence two years later.

The 1960s brought a change in tactics by groups campaigning for change. Once local and confined to a specific area of conflict, they now focused on the anti-colonial unification of groups worldwide.

“In the 1960s, it was the height of decolonialization.  Many countries were decolonizing from their imperial past," said Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at Chatham House. "Obviously the United Kingdom was one of those, and France was another.”

The 1970s and 1980s brought heightened fears of the Cold War and global terrorism.  
“In the 1980s, you had the apartheid regime in South Africa increasingly in crisis, but you also had heightened anxieties of the Cold War and the growth of international terrorism," Vines said.

Britain was battling the military wing of the Irish Republican Army. Analysts say Mandela was lumped along with terrorists in western perception.

In 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher narrowly escaped injury when an IRA bomb exploded at a Conservative Party meeting in Brighton. Five party members were killed.

In 1987, Thatcher branded the ANC a terrorist organization.

Following South Africa's transition to black majority rule and Mandela's election as president, many feared his ascension to power.

But those who feared a freed Nelson Mandela pursuing power in South Africa have watched him lead, govern, and forgive. This week they mourn and honor him.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More