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It can be difficult to understand the meaning of oppression if at all one has never experienced the struggles coupled with oppressions hence, the desire to liberate from shackles of oppression. However, it is not easy to find the way out of oppression, especially when the oppressors seem to gain much from their egoistic acts. This has been the story in Africa, the story of oppression from the colonial masters. Yes, indeed it is the story of oppression between white settlers and Africans, fighting for resources and power. Nevertheless, in order to gain freedom, individuals or groups of people must have strong determination.
On matters of freedom, there are two warring groups fighting to gain something or protect their legacy. Each group has its own demands, of course by realization. Thus, since the disparities between the groups are many, the subjugated group will find it hard to fight for freedom. Nevertheless, if the group remain adamant and plan well, the situation will one day rectify where, the once mighty and feared will turn powerless. (Melber, 2006, 261-278).
At some point, the struggle for freedom can include mass killings, detention, rape and racial discriminations. Nevertheless, the two parties receive equal blame for their respective participation for either oppression or freedom. For example, the struggle for freedom in South Africa is one of the best examples of freedom in Africa so far. This incredible enlightenment came from Nelson Mandela who for his quest for African freedom did not lose self-determination to press on until finally declared, first past the post.
In the quest of freedom for Africa, Nelson Mandela has been a reference figure to many people who are still fighting for freedom especially in Africa. His enduring in addition, tireless devotion, became an ingredient of downtrodden semantics of the oppressors. South Africans were to fight their enemies and tormenters in order to achieve freedom.
On the other hand, the South African apartheid had claimed more from them hence, calming and breaking its foundations was a vision to achieve. Nevertheless, Nelson Mandela is one key inspirational figure in social and political sceneries. This man tirelessly fought for oppression and racial discrimination of South Africans. His participations on the antiapartheid rule in South Africa have won him a Nobel Peace Prize, leave alone being the President of South Africa.
The country that was once marked by oppressive tactics is now a figure of freedom in Africa. He led the country to reject colonial rule and one race government, into a rule of the majority and multiracial regime. Tirelessly, Nelson Mandela fought for the respect of human rights and equality whether white or black. (Mandela, 1990, pp. 2-48).
Though Nelson Mandela’s journey was marked with setbacks, epic struggles and strange happenings, the spirit and desire to achieve his visions renewed his hope and determinations, leading to his historical triumphant tribulation. Interestingly, Nelson Mandela grew up in an environment full traditions, cultural worships and social African elegancies.
However, as he grew up, it came to his realization that, apartheid rule was dominant, representing the most cantankerous and successive system of oppression and discriminations. South Africans had struggled in vain to reject this system. They feared death as anybody who was going contrary to this system, faced dire consequences including death.
Thus, South Africans, like any Africans during the period of colonialism, had to fight on notwithstanding of threats, in order to end oppression. The deaths had to cease no matter how long it took, so that Africans create their own administration full of African values, freedoms and tranquility.
Apartheid and Oppression
Like White people, Africans also needed an environment free of oppression and racial discriminations. Indeed, Nelson Mandela is the founder of freedom in Africa. Over the decades, Africans have been struggling to achieve justice and freedom in all speckles of life. This is the reason why, heroic, self-determined brave men and women who do not fear death through hanging or Police brutality voyaged to hasten and achieve liberation. The pillaging periods of social and national enslavements educated Africans that, they had to fight in order to achieve liberation, and that freedom is necessary for smooth survival and prosperity.
However, people can only win the war through visions and formation of peace units. For example, driven by hunger of justice, the South Africans decided to mould machinery called, African National Congress (ANC), which will act as a spear towards freedom. Among its top leaders, was Nelson Mandela who together with other eminent leaders, decided to lead a generational front of achieving freedom.
The group would stage protest marches as a way of uniting all those who wanted freedom. The white people oppressed South Africans in an unprecedented scale. For example, in order to rule well, Nelson Mandela realized that, the regime had divided the country along racial and ethnic lines, in what many termed, divide and rule system. A particular grouping represented each race or ethnic group. There groups included, the Colored People’s Congress, Communist Part, people from Dutch descendant fell under Afrikaners, South African Congress, and the African National Congress (ANC).
However, these groups thrived under the monarchial White National Party and it actually dictated what these parties did. In addition to social and ethnic segregations, the regime allocated about 87 percent of South African land to white settlers, leaving eight million South Africans to share the remaining 13 percent. In 1912, Mandela joined ANC with a view to quest for freedom. (Richardson, 1978, 185-219).
This party led protests and led mischief to the ‘notorious state laws’ which the regime abrogated to a level of deity. In fact, the regime had even enacted an oppression policy with a mission to achieve their demands. Nevertheless, the South Africans under the umbrella of ANC, decided to brawl on clandestinely, up to the time when they could achieve freedom. The ANC had to defend its members from the oppressive apartheid administration.
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For example, in order to reach out their conquest of freedom, AFC decided to embark in reactionary violence, silent mass mobilizations to gather numbers, and seeking international attention. Later, Nelson Mandela and the larger AFC leadership unveiled the Nation’s Spear, which used as a motto towards liberation. Moreover, the party decided to incorporate African states. Amid danger and consequences Mandela faced, he vowed to defend his people. (Decalo, 1992, pp. 7-35).
Unluckily, the apartheid regime arrested Nelson Mandela together with his lieutenants and sentenced them, five years in jail. Up to this far, the apartheid regime though that, it had completely shunned Africans from championing their freedom. All the same, later on, this idea came out to be acme of false tranquility, which only lasted in the twinkling of an eye.
At Robben Island where apartheid jailed Mandela and fellow ANC leaders, the leaders were busy developing another plan of action. Although the court found Mandela, the main suspect of leading the quest, contrary to apartheid laws and sentenced him for a longer period, the war on democracy still smelled from far.
In the Rivonia Trial Chambers, apartheid characterized oppression and white supremacy as opposed to black South Africans. The war had just begun; the war between white invincibility and freedom in Africa. In jail, Mandela and his fellow detainees continued to write to other interested civilians and international community, pestering them to force apartheid to release the detainees. (Gready, 1993, pp.489-523).
Demonstrations, Detention and Mass Killings
It has never easy for most African counties to achieve freedom, even today; many countries are still languishing in domestic and international oppressions. Though physical white regimes are no more in Africa, the issues of neo-colonialism still hold many African counties ransom to oppression. Mandela and his fellow ANC leaders were fighting to end white man dependency, which is itself oppression. Freedom in Africa meant that, Africans would wholesomely rely on themselves, economically, socially and politically. Perhaps this is the reason why, apartheid continued to abuse the jailers to stop them from heightening their political insinuations.
Interestingly, even some jailed illiterate people, graduated from dungeon cells, ready to defend their rights and freedoms. The student uprising in 1976 climaxed the whole war of freedom in Africa. However, the apartheid tortured civilians and apparently, the voice of the people harkened further and further; no machinery would stop civilian upsurge. Not even, army attacks, repression, sanctions and international seclusion, could stop the militant South Africans whose destination was freedom.
On learning how unstoppable civilian had become, apartheid decided to employ dialogue with Mandela. However, Mandela was not ready to accept the demands of apartheid. Instead, he vowed to oust the adversary of African freedom. The white men oppressed Africans on grounds of protecting their bigotry, cultural ambiguities and privileges. (Meredith, 1998, pp. 261-273).
The apartheid did not allow Africans to vote nor did they have civic rights. Additionally, the white people regime had deprived them land. On the other hand, if an African passed near a white man, he had to take off his hat besides, not stepping where the white man walked. In order to win this war, Africans had to stop regarding themselves along ethnic lines and form a single unit with similar ambitions.
Since the exploitations from apartheid seemed many, the Africans could not bear them any longer. The regime had taken everything helpful in the eyes of an African. Even land, which Africans consider a precious commodity, became rare because; the white settlers occupied the most productive areas leaving unfertile sections to the populous Africans. Poverty administered their lives coupled with inhuman mistreatment from apartheid regime.
Freedom in Africa
The hard-won freedom is today the paramount thing in freedom for all African states. For example, many countries in Africa conduct elections to choose their leaders. Africans were fighting to have the right to choose their leaders. In Ghana for example, the county went into an election inviting international observers to oversee the whole exercise whether it respond to the rule of majority. Indeed, the outcome of the exercise indicated how Africans have achieved the freedom to choose their leaders not warranted during colonial periods. In many African states, action dominates key institutions due to the realization of rights and freedoms.
South Africa being a symbol of freedom in Africa had their laws changed by Congress to represent the ill of the people. During the period in which Mandela spent years in prison, Africa was liberating itself from the shackles of colonialism. Instead of the perceived trivialities within Africans, mutual interdependence took place hence; Africans became more united. Mandela, 1990, pp. 76-106).
Nelson Mandela started championing African freedom when he was a young pugilist in 1940’s. Ancient African practices like tribalism, ethnicity and pluralism continued to eat the society slowly. The emergence of the apartheid as the powerful regime in South Africa heightened African differences.
However, Africans had to defeat their adversary not as a divided group, but a single entity. Mandela never believed in ethnicity and pluralism to be the drivers of revolution and African democracy hence; freedom in Africa. As a substitute, Mandela believed in equality of people whether Black, White or Negro. Perhaps this is the reason why he fought tirelessly to work with all South Africans irrespective of their ethnic or tribal backgrounds in the African congress structure (ANC).
The idea of national liberty exhibited by many African states is a clear indication of freedom in Africa and tribute belongs to Nelson Mandela for this beneficial ideology. Even after becoming President, many people around the world expected him to revenge but instead, Mandela continued to press for equality among every person living in South Africa whether Black, White, Jew, Indian or native. it is this particular sensibility that has made Mandela an international figure respected all over the world. (Meredith, 1998, pp. 8-37).
Nelson Mandela championed the freedom of Africans to get sound education. The colonial powers prohibited Africans from attending schools in order to receive education. Moreover, colonial masters denied Africans, the accessibility to information and learning fearing for further opposition of their prejudices and privileges. However, Mandela might have received part of his education during the 27 years he spent in jail. Today, many Africans albeit poverty, attend schools to get education and access information.
Additionally, some African governments offer free basic education to its civilians to create awareness within social, economic and political ladders. For years now, education has been a key figure in uniting Africans who fall in ethnic and racial divides. Nevertheless, the learning of one common language like English has made communication among Africans smooth hence, social development.
Today, African counties experience freedoms ranging from civil to political human rights. Democracy that was once a culture of western counties, currently exhibit in many African countries. Although some sub-Saharan counties experience internecine conflicts over resources, dictatorship and stolen elections, democratization is still taking roots in Africa. Nelson Mandela championed freedoms in Africa because, Africans can understand their own problems hence, solve them amicably without relying on western counties.
South Africans fought to obviate oppression hence and instead achieve freedom for all. Nevertheless, African counties need to personify their leadership modalities to avoid domestic feuds like the one experienced in Nigeria and Kenya in the recent times. The road to freedom is not an easy one just like many Africans thought. Just on the way, there are many obstacles like segregation, murder, police extra judicial killings, greed for power and racial segregation. However, with determination, Africans achieved freedom they enjoy today.
Decalo, S. (1992). The Process, Prospects and Constraints of Democratization in Africa. Journal of African Affairs, 91(362), 7–35.
Gready, P. (1993). Autobiography and the ‘power of writing’: political prison writing in the apartheid era. Journal of Southern African Studies, 19(3), 489-523.
Mandela, N. (1990). No easy walk to freedom. (2nd ed.). Oxford: Heinemann Educational Publishers.
Melber, H. (2006). Where There’s No Fight for It There’s no Freedom. Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 24(2), 261-278.
Meredith, M. (1998). Nelson Mandela. A Biography. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Richardson, H. (1978). Self-determination, International Law and the South African Bantustan Policy. Journal of Transnational Law, 17, 185-219.