Who was the more important in bringing about the end of the Apartheid and the minority rule in South Africa, Nelson Mandela or president de Klerk?
Within this essay I am going to discuss who was more important in bringing about the end of Apartheid in South Africa, Nelson Mandela or President de Klerk. I will also discuss why their actions were so vital to the end of minority rule in South Africa. Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918. He was also the leader of the ANC youth league and the main protestor for black rights within South Africa, He later went on to create the MK, Umkhonto we Sizwe. He was later imprisoned in 1963 and remained there for 27 years. Mandela then became prime minister of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. De Klerk was born in 1936. He was also prime minister but from 1989 to 1994. De Klerk is known best for his help in ending Apartheid; he helped end apartheid by releasing their main campaigner from prison, Nelson Mandela.
Mandela joined the ANC youth league in 1942; he later became leader of the same organization. Him joining the ANC youth league meant that he had more political power and could help the colored races to equality. He also played huge parts in the National day of Protest, Defiance campaign and the freedom charter, he helped these by making them more organized and helped create powerful –protests through South Africa. These three main protests were hugely important in bringing the end of Apartheid, these made the government think that the ANC was a threat and they would have to think harder about how to stop them. These were also greatly helpful to the fall of Apartheid by giving the colored races more confidence and belief that they can help end apartheid. Soon the government realised that
Nelson Mandela formed Umkhonto we Sizwe as the ANC would not drop its policy as non-violent protestors. This made it harder for them to push for equality which Mandela knew and decided he must take action and create MK (Umkhonto we Sizwe). MK also had a policy but it was that they would create violent protests as long as there was never any loss of life involved. This method of violence was used to storm huge political buildings of the white South African Government, which gave them bigger respect throughout South Africa. MK also managed to help increase the number of people joining the ANC as they were forced to change their policy as well. Eventually the MK Failed to stick to its policy of no loss of life in the process of gaining rights and men were killed, they had to push on however as they knew they were fighting for all black South African people.
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Mandela was placed in prison for 27 years, this meant he had no contact with the ANC or Umkhonto we Sizwe. This made it harder for both the organisations, as they didn’t have any strong leaders as most were imprisoned, and for Mandela, as he could not help forced protests and make the government abolish Apartheid. While inside Mandela helped protest and get better living conditions for the jailed, he also encouraged education inside prison and created political debates with inmates. He also managed to protest against apartheid while inside by not giving up to any of the government demands, a good example of this was when the government offered Mandela freedom numerous amounts of time as long as he would stop the anti-Apartheid campaigns which he refused to do and remained in prison. Throughout his stay in prison he never once stop protesting for the end of Apartheid, which helped dramatically to the fall of Apartheid.
The ANC becoming bigger, more effective and more radical meant that they could stage bigger and stronger protests on the houses of the government. The ANC membership rose from 7000 to a huge 100000 putting immense pressure on the White South African government. They also weren’t as much as a push over as the government had once before thought they were. This made it very hard for the government to counter their protests and had to eventually accept that they were a big threat to the Apartheid system. This made them realise that anti-Apartheid organisations were becoming a lot more powerful than was thought before. The government was forced to act quickly.
MK and its policy of sabotage put pressure on the white government as it injured many white people and killed as many as well, this scared the government as they didn’t want any people to be hurt or killed. They were forced to rethink the position of Apartheid policy in their government as it was causing huge trouble, segregating the White from the mixed races. The government knew that the apartheid system was becoming less and less efficient, so something had to be done. They were forced to abolish some apartheid rules.
Mandela being imprisoned put pressure on the government as it created huge riots and major protests throughout South Africa which were very difficult for the government to stop. It also caused problems for the government inside prison as Mandela was creating huge problems and joining with other inmates to stage massive protests. Mandela was the anti-Apartheid leader because of his actions and was internationally famous icon and had much respect worldwide. This meant that South Africa had made big enemies and boycotts were set up to drain South Africa of its economy. They were eventually forced to release Mandela, which was broadcast throughout the world; Apartheid was now an international issue, not just a South African one.
De Klerk becoming president was important in the fall of apartheid as he recognised the need for a new South Africa and the need for equal rights for all. He realised that Apartheid would have to end to do this. This was mainly because public opinion was very anti South Africa because of Apartheid, the economy was in downturn because of high inflation and taxation and riots in the townships caused de Klerk to realise that apartheid needed to be stopped.
De Klerk released the main colored political leaders like Sisulu, Tambo and many others. This meant that all the anti-Apartheid groups were at full strength and could force for better standards of living and equality. The release of these leaders also showed the world a different side to the South Africa they were used to, showing them in a better light. He also relegalised the ANC and other anti-Apartheid organisations so they were allowed to surface and protest in public without having to be secretive about their plans. The most important Release that de Klerk did was Letting Mandela out of prison. This showed that South Africa was giving in and that equality was being born throughout the country. To make it even easier to gain these rights de Klerk repealed all Apartheid laws, and abolished Apartheid entirely. His last act was to set a date for free elections were blacks could vote along side white and their votes counted just as much as anyone else did. They had finally beaten Apartheid with the help of de Klerk.
President de Klerk was important in bringing about the end of apartheid. His actions showed that he was dismantling the Apartheid system bit by bit, by releasing prisoners, legalising anti apartheid groups and more. One of the most important acts of de Klerk was his release of Mandela which was an irreversible anti apartheid message and was broadcast throughout the world. With this act de Klerk was telling the world that he was ending Apartheid and that there was no turning back to the old system of minority rule in South Africa. All of these actions were so important as they were paving the way for a new and equal South Africa were everybody could live together peacefully. If he had not done any of the actions above the anti apartheid movement groups would still be at war with the government as they were demanding all of those things above. These were so important as they meant South Africa was equal again and that the apartheid system was eventually abolished and gone for good.
Both men were vitally important in bringing about the end of apartheid and minority rule in South Africa. The work that Mandela did such as lead the ANC youth league and start Umkhonto we Sizwe set up the whole pressure system on the white South African government which meant that the system had to be changed. On the other hand the work that de Klerk did was equally important because he was the president of South Africa, he was the man with the power to change the Apartheid system.
However, it can also be argued that it was not just the work they did separately that was vital in ending Apartheid, but that the work they did together was also extremely important because the creation of CODESA they agreed to together was important in making all rights official. They both took part in the free elections showing that they have beaten apartheid and that this is a great moment in South African history. They both then joined together to form a new part of democratic government in South Africa.
In conclusion, I believe that both men were vitally important in the ending of Apartheid and minority rule in South Africa. Their work both separately and jointly was crucial to the fall of Apartheid and the importance of their actions is inextricably linked by them both being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, jointly, in recognition of their work. They were both awarded with the same prize as they were both equally as important to the fall of apartheid. They were both equally as important in the history of South Africa and Apartheid,