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What Have We Learned Since Nelson Mandela’s Arrest 58 Years Ago?

What Have We Learned Since Nelson Mandela’s Arrest 58 Years Ago?

The recent tragic event with George Floyd has surely spurred an endless debate on racism. “Black Lives Matter” continues to be a discussion needed in every community. And as we look at the present day, one cannot forget about the history of the Black struggle and the leaders who sacrificed their own freedom for the sake of others. In particular, we remember Nelson Mandela’s arrest 58 years ago this month.

Nelson Mandela was the first Black head of state of South Africa. He was a philanthropist and social rights activist. Many remember him as a Nobel Prize winner for his efforts in combatting racism. He is known as the anti-apartheid man who left no stone unturned in creating a safe society for humans where individuals feel respected and equal despite their race.

In the year 1964, he, along with seven of his comrades, were placed on trial for sabotage, treason, and violent conspiracy, known as the Rivonia Trial.

Mandela worked tirelessly for humanity in response to the South African apartheid policies. His work against the policy of apartheid, where Blacks were considered to be submissive to their White counterparts, was endless. He worked interminably and visited various countries to organize protests against racism and discrimination, shunning the idea of superiority and inferiority amongst people.

 In 1962, Mandela visited Ethiopia illegally to attend a conference of African leaders. As he returned to South Africa, he was arrested on August 5th, and was sentenced to prison for a period of five years. In the year 1964, he, along with seven of his comrades, were placed on trial for sabotage, treason, and violent conspiracy, known as the Rivonia Trial.

The trial lasted for a year, during which international organizations such as the World Peace Council and United Nations intervened, yet it was of no use. Mandela, along with his comrades, was sentenced to life imprisonment. It definitely created worldwide havoc, and people raised their voices against his imprisonment, which led to endless campaigns to release him. He remained in prison for twenty-seven extensive years, and was released in 1990, at the age of 71.

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“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.”

His efforts for equality are insurmountable and applaudable to say the least. His words during his trial truly showcased all that he was and he intended to be:  

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Let us not forget the commitment that leaders before us have given for their people. Let us not forget about the sacrifices made in order to eradicate racism and segregation. Let us take from their lessons and implement policies that create fair and equitable treatment for all, regardless of race or religion. While it has been decades since Nelson Mandela was sentenced to prison, his sacrifice is not forgotten.

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