Was The Leadership Of Nelson Mandela The Main Reason For The Ending Of Apartheid?

Authors Avatar by emilywilliams98hotamilcouk (student)

Some people have the view that the leadership of Nelson Mandela was the main reason why apartheid ended in South Africa in the 1990’s

How far do your sources support or contradict this interpretation?

An interpretation is the view or views of an individual on a particular person, persons, event or series of events. The individual’s point of view can be influenced by a host of factors such as political beliefs and values, religion, nationality, economic status, social and personal experiences. An individual interpretation of a set of events can be influenced by the nature and range of evidence studied.

In 1994 Nelson Mandela was elected as the first black president of South Africa, which now found itself as a fully democratic nation. The old political system of apartheid was ended due to his new presidency was now being changed. F.W De Klerk was the last president of the apartheid era and many argue that without De Klerks brave decisions white minority rule may never have been defeated. De Klerk was a significant figure as he ordered the release of Mandela from prison, and he was also the first to begin the dismantling of the old apartheid system by creating a power sharing government when he announced the ending of the 30 year ban on anti apartheid organisations such as the ANC. Many others argue that Mandela’s leadership and courage was the main reason why apartheid ended in South Africa in the 1990s.  Consideration also needs to be taken when we look at the external factors that also contributed to the end of apartheid. Both economic and sporting sanctions by the international community many argue played another key role. The fact that apartheid was becoming unsustainable, due to rising violence townships within South Africa, led to some significant white political figures understanding that a negotiated settlement was necessary as the security forces were struggling to control the situation which by 1990 affecting white areas. This essay will examine eight sources with contrasting interpretations on the issue to form a full and balanced judgement, on the role and importance of Nelson Mandela in ending apartheid.

Source B1 supports the view that Nelson Mandela was the main reason why apartheid ended in South Africa. Written by Richard Overy, a professor of history, Source B1 states that Mandela being released was the ‘real beginning of political change’, and that he was certainly a popular figure within South Africa. The source shows that Mandela devoted his life to his people, which ultimately helped him gain a ‘negotiated political statement’. B1 is a secondary source, with its origin being ‘The Times Complete History of the World’. Being written in such context implies that the author of the source would have researched and studied a wide range of sources from a number of viewpoints, before coming to an objective conclusion. However due to the fact this source is just a brief entry on Mandela and that ‘The Times Complete History of the World’ studies many historic figures, leads us to question whether the research made was in depth and detailed. The source also does not take into consideration other factors that contributed to the ending of apartheid, such as international sanctions and the role played by F.W de Klerk in releasing Mandela. This is not an in-depth study into the anti-apartheid struggle, rather a brief factual entry, on the life of Mandela

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Source B9, on the contrary, opposes the view that Nelson Mandela was the main reason why apartheid ended. This source is again a secondary source with its origin being from a book of historical facts is presented in headline style in order to appeal to general readers. The source conveys the view that it was in fact F.W de Klerk who ‘Knocked out’ the main props of the racist apartheid system, not Mandela. The author states within the source that without De Klerk, Mandela would not have been released from prison, and would not have not become the president of ...

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