What is to be done? Struggle
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
was a pivotal member of the African National Congress (ANC), a founder of the
ANC-Youth League, in 1944, and of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing
of the ANC, in 1961, after the ANC was banned following the Sharpeville massacre
in 1960. In 1962, Mandela left the country for military training in Algeria
and to arrange training for other MK members. On his return he was arrested
for leaving the country illegally and for incitement to strike. He conducted
his own defence. He was convicted and jailed for five years in November 1962.
While serving his sentence, he was charged, in the Rivonia trial, with sabotage
and sentenced to life imprisonment. He spent 27 years in prison, he was released
in 1990, after a global protest movement. In 1991, at the first national conference
of the ANC held inside South Africa, Nelson Mandela was elected President of
the ANC. He was inaugurated as the first democratically elected State President
of South Africa on 10 May 1994 - June 1999. Nelson Mandela recieved the 1993
Nobel Peace Prize, together with Fredric de Klerk.
The photos of queues of black voters, waiting for hours to cast their votes, have been the quintessential image of democractic duty. Whereas in many Western liberal democracies one sees huge abstention rates, in South Africa blacks were thirsty for democracy. In 1994, one woman, queueing to vote in Soweto, told the BBC "This is so great. I didn´t sleep. I woke up at 5 o'clock this morning to be the first person in the queue." In the third presidential elections, Abril 2004, one still saw the long queues.