Nelson Mandela, who received the Nobel Peace Prize, Bharat Ratna, Nishan-e-Pakistan and the Gandhi Peace Prize, got involved in anti-apartheid work in his youth. This is why he is also called the Gandhi of South Africa. Born July 18, 1918, Nelson Mandela died December 5, 2014. Presenting part of his autobiography on the occasion of his birthday …
I had become a city dweller in Johannesburg. I was wearing an elegant suit. I used to drive a luxurious old mobile car and knew the route to every street in town. I also went to an office in town every day. But in reality, I remained a desi boy at heart and there were only blue skies, open fields and green grass that could bring happiness to my soul. In September, when my ban was lifted, I decided to take advantage of my freedom and seek relief. I decided to head for the Orange Free State.
It took several hours to drive from Johannesburg to the Orange Free State, and I left Orlando at 3 a.m. on my trip. I have always loved this moment of leaving home. I wake up early in the morning anyway. The roads are empty and quiet at 3 a.m. So you can be alone with yourself. I like to watch the day rise, the change between night and day. It’s still royal. It was also the best time to go on a trip because the police are usually not found.
The Orange Free State has always had a magical effect on me, although some racist whites may call it their home, but the flat and dusty landscape as far as the eye can see, the big blue roof above, the yellow-green fields, the bushes, all together make my heart happy. No matter my mood. When I am there, I feel like no one can silence me because my thoughts can stretch out like a horizon. This scenario recalled the Boer commander, General Christian de Vet. He had defeated the British in dozens of works. He could have been my hero during the last months of the Anglo-Boer War, the most fearless and intelligent. If he had fought for the rights of all South Africans, not just Afrikaners (Dutch descendants living in Africa), he would certainly have been my hero. He displayed the courage, ingenuity and power of the Dalits. As I began to drive, I envisioned the hiding places of General D. Waite’s army and wondered if they would one day house African rebels as well.
July 18: India’s Independence Bill to decide on post-independence form is adopted
I was happy to come to this place. But my sense of security turned out to be false. When I entered the small courthouse on September 3, I found the police waiting for me. He showed me an order that I should resign from the African National Congress (ANC) under the Suppression of Communism Act. I must be confined to the Johannesburg district and not attend any meetings or rallies for two years. I had an idea that this could happen but I did not expect to receive such an order in this remote region.
I was 35 years old and these new, tougher restrictions ended my nearly decade of association with the ANC. It was the time of my awakening and my political development. I had a commitment to the struggle, which had become my life. From now on, the actions and plans of the ANC and the liberation struggle will become secret and illegal. I had to return to Johannesburg immediately.
These restrictions put me at the center of the conflict. I was doing everything around him. Although I have often succeeded in influencing the direction of such events. But I couldn’t feel like a vital part of this body anymore, like the heart, lungs or spinal cord, but I felt like a severed limb. Freedom Soldiers have to follow the rules, but breaking the law or jailing would have been pointless for the ANC and me at that time. Revolutionaries openly opposed the system, whatever the cost. It is better to organize in hiding than to go to jail. When I was forced to resign from the ANC, the organization had to replace me with someone I didn’t like. I had no rights. When I was on my way back to Johannesburg I saw the same Free State scene but now all was in vain.
The government can come by electing, but each of its steps must be tested on the test of the constitution: Justice Chandrachud
When my ban ended, the ANC Transvaal Conference was due to take place next month. I had already written my presidential speech. It was read at the conference by Andrew Cunene, member of the executive committee. This speech later became famous as “The No Easy Walk to Freedom”, a line taken from Jawaharlal Nehru. I said that the people will now have to be ready for a new political battle. New government laws and tricks have made old forms of public protest such as town halls, press releases, etc. dangerous. The newspapers did not print our statements under the Communist Suppression Act, the printing press refused. In view of all this, I wrote that now a new development of the political struggle is necessary. The old ways are suicidal.
The oppressor and the victim are face to face. I have no doubt that a day will come when truth and justice will prevail.
Education is the engine of personal growth. The daughter of a farmer can become a doctor only thanks to her studies, the son of a mining worker can become the head of the same mine. A child of a farm worker can become president of a great country, see what we can gain from what we have. Not what we were given. It is what separates one person from another.
Since the turn of the century, opportunities for Africans to study have come from churches and foreign missions which have sponsored the schools. During the United Party era, the curriculum for African secondary schools and white secondary schools was essentially the same.
The mission schools provided Africans with Western-style English education. I studied the same. We had fewer facilities, but there was no lack of what we could read or think or dream of. Nonetheless, the disparity in funding indicates racist education before the nationalists came to power. The government spent 6 times more for each white student than for an African student. Studying was not necessary for Africans. Education up to the primary grade was only free. Only less than half of African children were in school. Only a small number of Africans made it to high school. Even so much education turned out to be unnecessary for the nationalists. Afrikaner has always been indifferent to the education of Africans. They thought it was a waste of time because Africans had been stupid and lazy and no education could improve them. Afrikaner did not want Afrikaans to learn English, for them it was just a foreign language while for us the language of liberation.
In 1953, the nationalist-dominated parliament passed the Bantu Education Law, which called for the affixing of the apartheid seal on African education. Under the law, primary and secondary schools run by African churches and missions have been requested to be turned over to the government.
(An excerpt from The Struggle of My Life, Part 4 of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography The Long Walk to Freedom)