Thursday, June 8, 2017

The South African Freedom Struggle & Nelson Mandela

South African Freedom Struggle
In 1990, African peoples faced their own struggle for human rights. The South African government was made up of white South Africans. These people were mostly Afrikaners (a»frih»KAH«nerz), or descendants of Dutch settlers. In 1948 the Afrikaners began a policy of apartheid (uh»PAR»tayt), or "apartness." Under this policy white people and black people were to have as little contact with one another as possible.

Life under apartheid was hard for black South Africans. Although they made up more than two-thirds of South Africa's population, they had few rights.

Black South Africans had long dreamed of making changes in the way they were treated. The African National Congress (ANC) was founded in 1912 to work for the rights of black South Africans. In 1960, however, the South African government banned the ANC and jailed many of its leaders.

Many countries stopped trading with South Africa because of the policy of apartheid. Even so, the government of South Africa continued apartheid.

Nelson Mandela
At last things changed after Frederik Willem de Klerk, an Afrikaner, became president of South Africa in 1989. De Klerk met with black leaders to work out a way to share power. By November 1993 the leaders agreed to open South African elections to all races. The election held on April 27,1994, resulted in victory for the ANC and its leader, Nelson Mandela. In one of his first speeches as president of South Africa, Mandela described a new South Africa, in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts."

Democracy Movement
Democracy had also won out across the Atlantic in Latin America. During much of the twentieth century the peoples of many Latin American countries lived under the rule of military dictators. One by one these dictatorships began to fall in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, every Latin American country but Cuba is a democracy.

Not all struggles for rights have been successful. In 1989, college students across China were calling for democracy and more human rights. Thousands of them gathered at Tiananmen Square in Beijing to protest against their government. Many people around the world believed that the Chinese government would make some political changes to give its people greater freedoms.

On June 4,1989, the Chinese government did take action, but not the kind many people had hoped for. It ordered Chinese soldiers to remove the students. When the students did not leave, the troops began firing on them. As many as 5,000 students were killed. Many others were put in prison.

These actions quickly ended many demands for democracy in China. Today China seems to be changing economically to include more free enterprise. Politically, however, the country remains a long way from becoming a democracy.

How did South Africa change in the 1990s?

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