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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora