From Prison to the Palace
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From Prison to the Palace
South Africa is the African dream; this commonly refers to South Africa as the role model of African countries. If there is an African dream, then an African nightmare exists and the later should learn from South Africa. The phrase refers to the good standards of living that exist in South Africa compared to other African States. The good living standards are direct products of democracy and equality in South Africa. What most people do not realize is that South Africa was once an African nightmare before it developed to its status. Peace and economic stability in South Africa today never existed when South Africa was the African nightmare. Thanks to Nelson Mandela, dedicated and courageous leadership, South Africa has achieved its status.
The struggle for freedom for all South African cannot be a complete subject without the role played by Nelson Mandela. Mandela was not only the most courageous leader that Africa has ever had but also sacrificed a lot for the freedom of the nation. The climax of this sacrifice is the choice he made to go and remain in prison until South Africa achieved total liberation. The people forgot Mandela following this imprisonment, but he never lost his dream of a free South Africa. A critical analysis on Mandela's imprisonment proves that South Africa the dream of Africa is a direct product of his imprisonment. This implies that without his imprisonment the 'African dream' could be no more and therefore South Africa moved from prison to the palace.
The Sharpeville massacre is not only an event that remains in the memory of many people across the world, but it also shaped the country's future. This event made the South African people to realize that they needed changes in their government. In addition to that, Mandela faced detention when he came under the spotlight as the main organizer of the demonstration. The event also led the government to declare ANC as an illegal movement and therefore Mandela got into trouble. Although the authority did not charge Mandela with any crime during the detention, his name entered the wrong list of the law. This however did not stop him from pushing for reforms and in 1961; he delivered a speech in Pan-Africans conference that got him into trouble.
Mandela led a normal life like any South African citizen before he got involved in the political activities of the ANC that was later an illegal movement. In 1961, there was declaration of ANC as an illegal movement by the government and Mandela went underground. However, his political ambitions and determinations did not end with ANC. He later founded the guerrilla movement Ukomoto we Sizwe which led to more troubles than he experienced before. Unlike the ANC that used political tactics to bring the government into negotiation, this new movement carried out sabotage actions against apartheid symbols in South Africa. In august 1962, the sabotage and demonstration organized by the newly founded movement reached their peak. The government branded these demonstrations illegal and arrested Mandela for his role in organizing an illegal movement and demonstrations. Following his arrest Mandela used the courtroom as an opportunity to challenge the apartheid government on the role it played in the suffering of the people, but he lost the case and served 5 years in prison. Due to the way he presented his defense in court, the government viewed him as a threat to the nation, in June 1964, he was charged with treason, and this led to his life imprisonment.
Before sending Mandela to prison, the South Africans did not realize that the government could do anything to suppress them. The act of sending him to prison made the people realize that they needed to have a total change in the whole government and the governing systems. This realization made them to know that they needed to earn their freedom and the freedom of the country through struggle. South Africa therefore became a confrontation zone between the police and black South African youths. From these demonstrations, it is evident that his imprisonment made the black South African majority realize that the country needed change and that the only way to achieve these changes was through struggle. According to Mandela going to prison was a choice; he actually made a choice between going to prison and collaborating with the government. However, he chose to go to prison for the freedom of the nation and this made the people to realize that in their struggle for freedom they had to make sacrifices. The number of youths who lost their lives during the confrontations is a clear indicator of their sacrifices.
The Roben Island Prison had little effect on Mandela's ambitions and while there, he continued to sell political ideas to his fellow inmates. The prison authority however noticed this quickly and he spent most of his years in confinement. In 1984, the government tried to convince him to accept freedom on condition that he denounces his political ambition and move to Transkei but he turned down the offer. In 1985, the government offered him full freedom but he refused to accept it until the government gave the Black South Africans their political right. From these three events, the government realized that it could not succeed in suppressing South Africans dream of a free state. The government also realized that a change of regime was inevitable and that people could not settle for anything in exchange of their freedom. These events also made the government to realize the need for dialogue with the black South Africans to cut the racial divide (Joyce 168). Before these events, the South African government had never considered dialogue with the black South African. In addition to that, the government realized that people could not turn back in their pursuit for freedom. The conclusion is that the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela made the government to realize that people needed change and that was inevitable. The government also realized that using force on the people could not solve the countries problems and therefore dialogue was the best option (Joyce 215).
Political freedom in South Africa is unparalleled in Africa and throughout the developing countries (McGann and Johnson 207). Freedom in the formation of political parties defines a country's political stability, which characterizes the modern South Africa. Before Mandela's imprisonment, the South African government banned all political parties and movements including the most dominant party the ANC. Without these political parties, the government realized that it had taken away the people's political freedom and was not ready to give them back. However, with Mandela imprisonment, the government realized that people could not accept freedom without their political freedom. In 1989, De Klerk legalized ANC together with other sixty political parties and movements that had been banned. Legalization of political parties and movement took place even though apartheid rule still existed (McGann and Johnson 209). The main reason why the government legalized political movement followed the need for negotiations with the people, which resulted from Mandela's imprisonment. In conclusion, Mandela's imprisonment made South Africa realize its status of political stability.
Finally, South Africa is the African dream following the unity and cohesiveness that exist among South Africans. With Mandela's imprisonment, the South African realized that it was only through unity that they could defeat apartheid and initiate reconciliation in the country. Mandela's release from prison in 1990 clearly demonstrated the unity created in South Africans following his imprisonment. In his book Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela (7) states that, people from our country were happy following my release from prison after 27 years." Mandela (9) goes on to add that he did not expect this from the people to imply that, they had indeed changed and valued unity.
Mandela played a great role in influencing South Africa to achieve its status and shape its history. Although South Africa has experienced rapid changes, the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela is a major cause of all these changes. Before Mandela went to prison, the South African people expected the government to give them their freedom. However, his imprisonment made them to realize that freedom is earned and there was need to fight for it. In their fight for freedom, the government realized that there is need to negotiate with the people and therefore political parties were legalized. Mandela's imprisonment therefore contributed to the countries political independence. Finally, his imprisonment made the South Africans to unite and reconcile. Freedom, political stability and unity among people means prosperity and this is the "African dream", South Africa the country from prison.
Joyce, Peter. The Making of a Nation: South Africa's Road to Freedom. Cape Town: Zebra Press, 2007. Print.
Mandela, Nelson. No Easy Walk to Freedom. Johannesburg: Heinemann, 1965. Print.
McGann, James and Johnson, Eric. Comparative Think, Politics and Public Policy. Massachusetts. Edward Elgar Publishing Inc, 2005. Print