Nelson Mandela Essay

1582 words - 6 pages

The Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and the Great Pyramids; these are some of the most recognizable cultural icons in the world today. A cultural icon can be a symbol, logo, picture, name, face, person, building or other image that is readily recognized and generally represents an object or concept with great cultural significance to a wide cultural group (Wikipedia). Abraham Lincoln and George Washington are examples of individuals who are important cultural icons to many Americans. Another person who is considered a cultural icon is Nelson Mandela; an individual who took a stand against apartheid in South Africa and established great strides toward racial equality in that part of the world. Mandela is considered as cultural icon because he achieved widespread recognition for his accomplishments with racial equality, he established a world-wide organization that researches possible cures for AIDS, and July eighteenth has been designated as international Mandela day.
In 1908, the white minority group of South Africa achieved independence from Great Britain and established a government where they controlled the majority population of non-whites (nobelprize.org). Nelson Mandela was born on the lands that the white government assigned to colored citizens in 1913. At the end of Mandela’s first year college at Fort Hare University, he became involved in a Students' Representative Council (SRC) boycott against university policies and was told to leave the university and not return unless he accepted election to the SRC (Wikipedia). Mandela left without finishing his degree. This action against the school is thought to have been the beginning of his fight against apartheid. In 1943, while studying law at the University of the Witwatersrand, Mandela entered politics by joining the African National Congress (ANC) (Nelson Mandela Biography). A year later, Mandela joined a small group of young African members of the ANC who banded together and vowed to transform the ANC into a more radical mass movement (Nelson Mandela Biography). As part of this, Mandela was jailed for treason in 1956-1961 but acquitted in 1961 (Wikipedia). The South African Government banned the ANC in 1960, but not to be dissuaded from his mission; Nelson Mandela ignored the ban and pushed to establish a military wing within the ANC (nobelprize.org). As a result, he was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years' imprisonment with hard labor. Mandela was later brought to trial for plotting to overthrow the government by violence, for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 12, 1964, Mandela. During his years in prison, Nelson Mandela's reputation grew steadily. He became a symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement strengthened. Mandela was offered freedom by the South African President if he was to give up his cause, but he chose to remain in prison instead. However, on February 11, 1990, with a new South African President in charge,...

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