Nelson Mandela and Apartheid

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Racial segregation is the separation of people in a community within all areas of daily living; such as education, housing, jobs, and income. It is something that many countries have had issues with throughout history. The United States is no stranger to racial segregation.

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In fact other countries such as Germany, Haiti, and Australia have all had their fair share of separation, when it comes to the rules or the activities, of the people that live there based on the color of their skin, or how they looked (“Racial Segregation 2015). South Africa was another country that faced major issues with racial segregation. This was known as Apartheid. Apartheid should be ended in South Africa because rules should be the same for everyone regardless of their race, blacks and whites should be able to be educated, obtain housing, marry, and seek employment without being treated differently, and by changing the separation laws the community will be able to come together culturally to learn from each other and grow.

Nelson Mandela was a leader in South Africa that was strongly against racial segregation. Mandela who was born July 18, 1918 was groomed for his position in leadership at a very young age. He was the first of his family to receive a formal education and went as far as attending the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. It was also at the University where Mandela began his protests against racism and built many important relationships with both black and white activists (Editors 2009).

Mandela wanted black people to be treated equally as white people, and have the same rights they had when it came to the activities to live as one in society. In order to help make this happen Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1944. The African National Congress, also known as the ANC, used nonviolent methods like boycotts and strikes to gain full rights for all South Africans (Editors 2009). When the Pan African Congress was formed in 1959 and began using military like force against the peaceful protestors, Mandela chose to fight back. Mandela said, “It would be wrong and unrealistic for African leaders to continue preaching peace and nonviolence at a time when the government met our peaceful demands with force. It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle.” (Editors 2009).

The decision to fight back with violence soon caused a ban on the African National Congress, and Nelson Mandela to be sent to prison. Before leaving to serve his time he stated that he always wanted the people of South Africa to be able to live together in peace with equal opportunities. He said it was an idea that he hoped he would live for and achieve, but he was willing to die for the same idea as well (Editors 2009). Nelson Mandela’s words before going to prison were so powerful that it caused him to gain respect from numerous of supporters. This new found support caused isolation among the Apartheid government of South Africa. The government could not handle the struggle in which they were undergoing and decided to offer Mandela a deal. The government offered to release Mandela if he would stop the anti-apartheid people in return; however, Mandela declined and said that he would not accept being released until the Apartheid was completely stopped (Campbell 2013).

The government soon agreed to lift the ban on the African National Congress and after 27 years of being in prison, Nelson Mandela, was free. Mandela played a major role in restoring friendly relations between blacks and white in the South African community after his release. His efforts made the power that the white people in South Africa held impossible to maintain and soon that power was overturned by the birth of Democracy and the election of Nelson Mandela as the president of South Africa (“Building Democracy After Apartheid”).

After the Apartheid ended there were many changes in the South African community. Blacks who were at one point being educated at mission schools were soon forced to receive an Apartheid education, known as Bantu Education. Bantu education kept the blacks from getting the same level of education that the white people received in school. In some cases blacks were not allowed to get an education at all. The ending of Apartheid allowed the blacks and whites to learn the same way and with each other (“Building Democracy After Apartheid”).

Blacks were only allowed to live in certain places during the Apartheid. These segregated homes were often times run down with poor sources of water and electricity. When Apartheid ended blacks were given the opportunity to live where they wanted, as long as they could afford to live in the area they were looking to get housing. Also only whites could own land during the Apartheid, while now land can be purchased by blacks as well. Blacks are able to work anywhere now, whereas before jobs were limited. The yearly income for blacks after the end of Apartheid has increased and is now better comparable to most white South Africans (Campbell 2013).

Since Apartheid ended the issues with segregation have become much better. Now the citizens of South Africa, blacks and whites, live together in an environment where they can learn and grow from each other culturally. They share things such as food, drawings, and dance that have now spilled out into the world, making major contributions to the arts as a whole. Dance is a form of expression that is used around the world. In South Africa a popular dance that emerged during the Apartheid era was called Pantsula. Pantsula is a dance that was used as a form of expression for political and cultural issues (Sanders). It is a mixture of tap dance and african tribal dancing with a lot of twisting, locking, and popping motions, a lot like what we here in America would call “hip-hop”. During the 1970s and 80s Pantsula was used by the youth of South Africa to rebel against the Apartheid government. This was their way of being able to contribute and respond to the circumstances of Apartheid (Winship 2018).

The dance styles used primarily here in America is also a form of communication. Dance styles like hip-hop, contemporary, lyrical, tap, jazz and ballet all tell a story during performance. Like Pantsula it is used to bring people together and help them relate to issues they are going through by using fluid like motions and expressions. This allows for people from all diversities and different backgrounds to grow with each other and learn from one another, as a way of communicating their shared experiences (Sanders). When it comes to dance and people involved in it there is no obvious black and white. Everyone comes together and dances for the enjoyment of it, the lesson to be taught, or the experience to be shared. There is no segregation in dance and that is something that resonates closely to the idea that Nelson Mandela had. The idea of blacks and whites conducting everyday life in peace and harmony (Editors 2009).

The world today still has its issues with racial segregation. We are not perfect and have a lot of work to do when it comes to really living the life that Nelson Mandela and many other leaders who wanted equal rights for all races. South Africa has been through the struggle and overcome it all the same. Apartheid has long ended and things have changed drastically for the whites and blacks that live there. Rules in South Africa are now the same for everyone regardless of their race. Blacks and whites can receive the same type education, obtain housing, marry, and seek employment without being judged or told no. And because the separation laws have changed the community is now collectively coming together culturally to learn from each other and grow.

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