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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid