Nelson Mandela - Long Walk to Freedom Analysis

2967 words 12 pages
Long Walk to Violence
The path that lead Nelson Mandela to violence and the effects of his decision

Aside from his loose Communist ties, Nelson Mandela’s use of violence was the only internationally questioned aspect of his struggle for freedom in South Africa. Most modern societies, Americans in particular, view acts of violence as inherently evil. They look to leaders such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King who brought change through nonviolent protest. However, the governments these leaders fought against had rights for citizens and thus the government did not outright murder the protestors. Nelson Mandela performed nonviolent protests for a decade in South Africa while the government violently attacked and killed his protestors.
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With the oncoming apartheid legislation, the ANC began for the first time to plan illegal acts such as boycotts, strikes, stay-at-homes, and demonstrations. Their first general strike on May 1 was peaceful but police attacked and opened fire killing 18 demonstrators and wounding many others. Instead of apologizing for their slaughter, the government tightened the screws by creating the Suppression of Communism Act. This act essentially made any civil disobedience illegal. Despite the government’s violent reaction, Mandela and the ANC still stuck to their course of nonviolence and planned the massive 1952 passive defiance campaign: No matter what the authorities did, the volunteers could not retaliate, otherwise they would undermine the value of the entire enterprise. The must respond to violence with nonviolence; discipline must be maintained at all cost. (Mandela, 127).
Fortunately, the defiance campaign went off without government violence but resulted in the banning and arrest of many members of the ANC. It was becoming clear that the government intended to squash passive resistance with an iron first. Through the government violence, arrests, and dismissal of demands it was becoming obvious that in a nation where Africans have no rights, nonviolent protest becomes an ineffective weapon


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