frontline: the long walk of nelson mandela
the prisoner

Viewers' & Teachers' Guide

The fugitive Mandela, at Algeria military headquarters, 1962

Historical Overview South Africa: 1652 - mid 20th Century

Early European Settlement

European settlement in the area that today is South Africa began in 1652, with the Dutch occupation of Table Bay, now Cape Town, South Africa's parliamentary capital. These early colonists, later known as Boers, meaning farmers in Dutch, came as part of an expedition led by Jan van Riebeek, representing the Dutch East India Company. Many other Dutch settlers followed these early colonists, as well French Huguenots and Germans who worked the land and established a settlement to serve as a European way station for the Dutch East Indian fleets. Over the course of settlement black South Africans were dislodged and slaves were imported from other parts of Africa and Asia. The descendants of the early Dutch settlers became known as Afrikaners.

In 1795, as a result of the Napoleonic Wars which threatened the Boers with possible French expansion, they put up little resistance to the British seizure of the Cape. The area became a British colony and naval base. Under this early British rule, the colony grew in size and prosperity. The Boers, however, viewed themselves as the rightful "settlers," and resented the British regime and its policies, particularly after slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833. As frictions with the British intensified, the Boers left the colony for rural northern regions of Southern Africa, mainly the Transvaal and the Orange Free State - areas not yet colonized by the Europeans. The Boers declared these areas the South African Republic and refused to grant political rights there to "foreigners," including native Africans, the British, and all others not of Dutch origin. Opposed to this policy and eager to gain a foot-hold in the gold-rich northern territory and the diamond mines of the Orange Free State, the British expanded their garrison northward toward the Transvaal where continuing tensions with the Boer settlers ultimately led to the Boer Wars between 1899 and 1902.

The Union of South Africa

The British emerged the victors in May 1902, which gave them control of the former Boer provinces of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. In 1910, following eight years of negotiations, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State were granted independence by enactment of the 1909 South Africa Act which linked them to the British colonies of the Cape and Natal under the self-governing Union of South Africa. The South Africa Act also institutionalized long-standing, but unofficial policies of racial segregation and the domination of the Black majority and other ethnic groups through the creation of an all White government, and called for the repression of South African Blacks in every conceivable form.

The Institutionalization of Apartheid

Over the following decades, successive laws widened the gulf between the black majority and white minority, making South Africa one of the most brutally repressive regimes of this century. These laws and others determined where Blacks and other ethnic minorities could live and work; who they could marry, what levels of education they could obtain, and so on. Soon after 1948, when the white Nationalist Party came to power, a multitude of such regulations were passed, mandating into South African law a totally segregated society - a system known today as apartheid, meaning "apartness" in Afrikaans.


South Africa, like many nations, has a long history of racism, dating back to the arrival of the first European settlers to the continent in the 17th century. In the course of the last three centuries, the black majority populations were segregated and subjected to all forms of political and economic discrimination. In 1948, when the Nationalist Party came to power, white minority domination in South Africa was officially entrenched. Once in power, the new, all white government enacted numerous laws to ensure a system of total racial segregation known as apartheid, meaning "apartness" in Afrikaans.

The Group Areas Act of 1950 mandated geographic separation in business and residences between people of different colors and races. Likewise, the Population Registration Act classified the population into four racial categories - White or European, Colored, Asiatic and Bantu. Apartheid laws and policies such as these intensified in subsequent years. In 1960, following the massacre at Sharpeville, the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) were outlawed. ANC leader, Nelson Mandela, was jailed and sentenced to life in prison in 1964. Resistance to Apartheid policies by those within the country, and those members of banned organizations working underground abroad continued until Apartheid was dismantled in 1992. In the 1980s, ongoing protests, combined with international efforts such as trade sanctions and boycotts, gradually moved the government toward modifying apartheid policies. By 1990, many of the restrictive laws had begun to be dismantled. That same year, the ANC was legalized once again and Mandela, after 27 years in prison, was let free.

History of the ANC

The African National Congress (ANC), now the majority party in South Africa's Government of National Unity, was founded in 1912 in response to the creation of the Union of South Africa which institutionalized racial discrimination against Blacks.

From its inception, the ANC was dedicated to ending apartheid, initially following a cautious approach of appeals to Britain to recognize African rights. However, decades of racism and violent attacks on Blacks resulted in a surge of extreme African nationalism, propelling the ANC toward a militant program to achieve its aims. In 1944, Nelson Mandela and other young nationalists joined ranks to create what would become an influential wing of the resistance organization - the ANC Youth League. The militant ideas of the Youth League quickly found support among the masses. Following its formation, the Youth League drew up a "Program of Action" calling for strikes, boycotts and other real and symbolic acts of defiance aimed at eradicating apartheid. Beginning in 1949, one year after the conservative white Nationalist Party came to power, the Youth League "Program" was implemented by the ANC, leading to what became known as the Defiance Campaign of the 1950s.

The Defiance Campaign marked the beginning of mass resistance to apartheid. Black Africans broke the racist "pass laws" and Indian, Colored and White volunteers entered Black townships without official permission. Despite government attempts to suppress the public disobedience, community struggles continued throughout the 1950s.

The 1950s brought Blacks and anti-apartheid Whites together on a much greater scale in the fight for justice. A small minority of ANC members, known as Africanists, objected to this growing alliance and in 1959 broke from the ANC to form the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). Similar to the ANC's campaigns, PAC was quick to initiate its own non-violent mass protests against the pass laws. In March of 1960, 20,000 PAC-mobilized protesters left their homes without their passes and gathered in Sharpeville, a township in the Transvaal about 30 miles south of Johannesburg. The police responded by opening fire on the unarmed throng. During this assault, sixty-nine Blacks were killed and another 186 were wounded, the majority of whom were hit in the back.

The Sharpeville massacre had a number of profound effects on the future of the mass movement against apartheid in general and the future of the ANC in particular. First, it drew international attention to South Africa's apartheid policies and inspired the world community's gradual isolation of South Africa. Second, it marked the end of an era of mostly non-violent resistance to the white minority government. In 1960, soon after Sharpeville, both the ANC and PAC were outlawed and thousands of activists connected to both groups were arrested. The government clampdown led ANC leaders to conclude that public protest alone would not succeed in weakening the apartheid regime. The ANC moved its operations underground and in 1961 took up arms against the government with the formation of a secret military arm, the Umkhonto we Sizwe (The Spear of the Nation) known as MK, headed by Mandela.

In its first 18 months, MK conducted some 200 acts of sabotage resulting in even harsher repression by the government. A 1962 raid on MK's underground headquarters led to the arrest of its leaders, and to the 1963 Rivonia Trial at which MK leadership, Mandela included, were charged with high treason. This crime could have been punishable by death, a possibility that Mandela acknowledged in the manifesto that he delivered in court prior to sentencing. In his manifesto Mandela stated that he was willing to die for his ideals. In 1964, along with his compatriots, Mandela was convicted of acts of sabotage and sent to prison where he stayed for 27 years. Despite his long incarceration, Mandela remained the guiding spirit and leader of the anti-apartheid movement.

By the time the Rivonia Trial drew to a close, the underground structures of the ANC were nearly demolished. The remainder of the 1960s saw the emergence of a big challenge to the anti-Apartheid movement because of the outlawing of the major resistance groups. In the late 1960s South Africa saw the beginning of the Black Consciousness Movement that was initiated by Black university students led by Steve Biko. This new generation of activists, working with the Black Trade Unions, would dominate the resistance movement in the 1970s and 1980s. In addition to the mobilization of Blacks, there were many other individuals and groups that were actively resisting Apartheid. In response to and in spite of resistance efforts, the apartheid system grew stronger and its grip was extended over all aspects of life. In the early 1970s, the government's color ban on freedom of travel and work began to reverberate within the South African economy. Prices for basic foods and staple items rose sharply making it even more difficult for Blacks to survive.

Worker and student strikes broke out in 1973 in Durban and later spilled over to other parts of the country. The renewed protests exploded into riots in June 1976 after government attempts to force Black children in Soweto to study Afrikaans, the white Afrikaner language. Tens of thousands of high school students took to the streets. Police opened fire on the marching students, triggering a nation-wide uprising that left over 1,000 people dead.

The student protests breathed new life into the fragmented ANC. ANC underground structures began to re-emerge and encouraged mass support for the demonstrators by linking the student effort to the broader struggle for national liberation. In the 1980s, the resistance effort reached new heights. The regime responded with swift brutality, attempting to quell each strike, protest, and violent outburst and re-establish control. Nevertheless, an increasingly restless population accelerated their demands for civil rights, improved education, universal suffrage, the elimination of job limitations, urban segregation and the pass laws. Mounting international pressure combined with domestic turmoil to yield some governmental steps toward reform.

In 1989, F.W. de Klerk replaced South Africa's long-term President P.W. Botha. De Klerk set about more aggressively dismantling the structures of apartheid. The following year, in 1990, he lifted the 30-year ban on the ANC and granted freedom to political dissidents including ANC leader Nelson Mandela. Parliament began the repeal of more than 100 pieces of racist legislation that had formed the official backbone of the apartheid system. In March 1992, white South Africans voted to end apartheid. In 1994, the ANC emerged victorious in South Africa's first multi-racial general election. Along with millions of other Black South Africans, Nelson Mandela voted for the first time in this election which brought him to the presidency of the new democratic South Africa.

Discussion Questions

1. Look at what was happening in your family's history during the 1940s and compare that with what the life of a Black or White South African during that decade.

2. Compare how the lives of a Black American and a Black South African during the 1960s might have been similar or different.

3. How did the United States respond to the South African government's policy of Apartheid during different decades?

4. In what ways did the actions of the international community contribute to the continuance and/or downfall of Apartheid?


As a leader, I have always followed the principles I first saw demonstrated by the regent at the Great Palace. I have always endeavored to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion. Oftentimes, my own opinion will simply represent a consensus of what I heard in the discussion. I always remember the regent's axiom: a leader, he said, is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind. (From Mandela's memoirs, Long Walk to Freedom, chapter 3)

As the first leader of a democratic South Africa, Nelson Mandela faces the challenge of leading his people into the twenty first century -- people who have been divided and deeply affected by years of racism, and who represent many races and cultures. He serves as a symbol for peace, unity and change for the people of South Africa - and the world. He also faces difficult social and economic challenges as he seeks to provide adequate housing, employment opportunities, and social services to all citizens.

He is endowed with many personality traits that make him a natural leader, and over the course of his lifetime, he has also developed many leadership skills and strategies. As a young boy Mandela grew up in the Transkei area as a member of the royalty within the Thembu group of the Xhosa tribe. Like his father before him, he was groomed to counsel the rulers of the tribe. After his father died, he was formally adopted by the Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, acting regent of the Thembu people, and had many first hand opportunities to observe the chief's leadership skills in action as he led tribal councils in the community. But Mr. Mandela chose not to follow his pre-determined path; instead he ran away to Johannesburg and began his life's work with the ANC. He was guided by an unfailing belief in the possibilities of his future leadership, as underscored by Joe Matthews' statement in the FRONTLINE film

"Mandela made a speech as leader of the Youth League in which he predicted that he would be the first president of South Africa".

Mandela was sent away to Healdtown boarding school and later, to Fort Hare University near Umtata. He discovered the importance of education as a tool for understanding both his own people's history and culture -- and those of other groups. He retained a life-long thirst for education and knowledge, completing his law degree while in jail, and continuing to study through his years of imprisonment on Robben Island. Mr. Mandela was also instrumental in encouraging fellow political prisoners to continue their education, so much so that warders there would sometimes refer to his prison block as "Mandela University"*. In the FRONTLINE film, Murphy Morobe says:

"We could not wait to get to Robben Island largely because we've heard about Nelson Mandela. It was something we looked forward to almost like the culmination of one's initiation, you know, as young people."
Mandela also surrounded himself with people who provided him with intellectual challenges -- including former ANC President Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and others.

*(James Gregory, Goodbye Bafana : Nelson Mandela My Prisoner, My Friend Headline Book Publishing, London, 1995)

Mr. Mandela understood that tenacity and discipline were essential skills of leadership. As he began cross-country running in high school, and later took up the sport of boxing, he developed a consistent regimen of physical exercise, which served both to relieve the tension and stress of his every day life, and also helped him maintain excellent physical health -- even during his 27 years in prison. Alistair Sparks says in the FRONTLINE film:

"...he's a very controlled individual, and that's part of the prison legacy."

From his early days observing tribal politics, Mr. Mandela learned that listening was often more important than talking. Having learned this skill, he would gain a reputation as someone who could hear -- and be open to -- differing points of view. Like many great leaders of the 20th century, Nelson Mandela had an unwavering commitment to his beliefs. In the FRONTLINE film, as a defendant in the Rivonia Trial, Mandela publicly stated in court:

"I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

This leadership quality - the ability to keep his "eyes on the prize" in the face of continual danger to his person and his people - was essential to realizing his vision of a free and democratic South Africa. He has remained loyal to his ideals, his friends, and his people throughout his life.

In today's world where the media plays such an important role in shaping public perception of leaders, Mr. Mandela is conscious of using the media to his advantage. He has always paid careful attention to his physical appearance, effectively "wearing" visual symbols such as tribal clothing or three piece tailored suits, and he is an engaging and motivational speaker.

He appears to be humble and immodest, always giving credit and acknowledging the contributions of others.

Since he started the ANC's Youth League in the 1940's, Nelson Mandela has taken a leadership role in the ANC, and he has led his country through the first five years of transition from white minority rule to democratic rule. As he steps down from his position as South Africa's president at the age of 80, Nelson Mandela leaves behind a legacy of extraordinary leadership. He brought to his presidency a charismatic personality, intelligence, wit, and empathy. This, combined with his unique strategic vision, ability to motivate and lead his country, and his unfailing belief in the power of people to change, places Nelson Mandela among this century's most admired leaders.

Discussion Questions

1. Why is Nelson Mandela so admired as a leader? How is he similar or different from other world leaders?

2. What have you learned about leadership from Nelson Mandela?

3. How was Nelson Mandela supported in his leadership role? From whom did he receive this support?

4. How did Nelson Mandela's leadership role change as his circumstances changed?

Family Activities

Goal: The purpose of this activity is to use Nelson Mandela's leadership traits and skills as a way to help family members think about the qualities of leadership in general, and in their own lives.


1. Ask each person to think of a leader that they admire. It could be themselves, a family member, peer, a community, national or world leader, either living or historical. They should then think about the reasons why they admire this leader, writing down the specific characteristics or skills that the person has.

2. Ask each person to share who their leader is, and the leader's skills or characteristics. Compare the similarities and/or differences in the skills or characteristics.

3. Talk about which of the skills or characteristics family members think can be learned, and which people are "born with".

4. Finally, ask people to think about which skills and/or characteristics make the best leaders, and how these skills can be developed.

Group Activity

Goal: The purpose of this activity is to consider leadership in the context of social systems, recognizing that society needs people who play a variety of roles.


1. Begin by doing the "family activity" above and/or the extension activity below. This will allow students to think about the qualities of leadership.

2. Using the school as an example of a social system, brainstorm with students about all the roles they can think of that people play within their school. Encourage them to be expansive in their thinking by breaking out the specific roles, such as club member, drama student or athlete, that students or teachers play, rather then using broad categories such as "student" or "teacher". Write the roles down on a flip chart or chalkboard.

3. In small groups, invite students to give examples from the list of roles that have been brainstormed, and to clump them into categories relating to leadership. You can provide them with suggested categories, or they can create their own. Some suggestions for categories might be leaders, followers, change-agents, rule enforcers, rule breakers, etc.

4. Ask students to think about what the school would be like if every person played the same role. At the same time, they should think about their own roles within the school and whether they stay constant or change within other social systems, such as their family, religious or community organization.

Extension activity

As a research or homework assignment, ask students to adapt the family activity by having them examine the traits and skills of an assigned world leader. Students can then share their findings, explore the similarities and differences and discuss which traits and skills can be learned.

the struggle for social justice

Nelson Mandela has spent his entire adult life pursuing the goal of a democratic South Africa. His belief in justice for all the peoples of South Africa guided all his actions, and he stayed true to his vision in spite of enormous obstacles and personal sacrifices that he was required to make. In the FRONTLINE film, Mandela's daughter Zindzi, speaking on his behalf while he was imprisoned, says:

"My father says: "Your freedom and mine cannot be separated."
Mandela is greatly admired the world over for his dignity in the face of his oppressors' behavior, and his unerring belief in doing what was "right", no matter what the consequences.

As he stated in his autobiography, Mandela began his life as a freedom fighter gradually, rather than in an impulsive and sudden move. While at university, through hearing from men such as Xhosa poet Mqhayi and Professor Z.K. Matthews, he began to question his assumptions about the black man's role in a white man's world, perhaps setting the stage for his life's work. Mr. Mandela left the Transkei after completing his second year of studies at Fort Hare and moved to Johannesburg where he joined the ANC. His education continued and his struggle for freedom began. Both would continue throughout his lifetime.

"I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments, produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system which imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, From henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise." (Long Walk to Freedom, chapter 11)

Mr. Mandela has spent his entire life, including 27 years in prison fighting for social justice -- and he was able to see the fruits of his labor in his lifetime. As Mac Maharaj states in the FRONTLINE film, speaking after the conviction in the Rivonia trial,

"There was jubilation because we thought that the struggle was still going to be longer than we had thought, but it was still going to be victorious. So they had lived and we would see them alive."
For other freedom fighters, the sacrifices were as extreme as giving their life for their beliefs. Others sacrificed less, but kept fighting in their own way for social justice. Whether it was the women of the Black Sash, a group of white women who made their contributions through demonstrations, advocacy and the provision of social services, or the members of the ANC's MK-wing who took up arms in the struggle, individuals made a choice to devote themselves to justice.

For those in the ANC Leadership, the biggest sacrifices they made were to their families. Mr. Mandela was not able to participate in the rearing of his children, or in any aspect of the every day life of his family. He was not even able to attend the funerals of his oldest son or his mother, both of whom died while he was imprisoned on Robben Island. Both he and his family felt the pain of his absence from their life, and his family had to share him with the world, for his struggle was for a nation, not for an individual or that individual's family.

I have always believed that to be a freedom fighter one must suppress many of the personal feelings that make one feel like a separate individual rather than part of a mass movement. One is fighting for the liberation of millions of people, not the glory of one individual. (Long Walk to Freedom, chapter 11)

Not all freedom fighters live to see their struggle bring about the change they are fighting for in their lifetimes. Sometimes, they set the stage for the next generation to realize the fruits of their labor. Social change happens when individuals make a choice to fight for justice and against oppression. Mr. Mandela's struggle achieved his desired outcome. South Africa is now a democratic country with a constitution that guarantees rights for all its people.

Discussion Questions

1. What does it take to be a freedom fighter? What kinds of people are more or less likely to devote themselves to fighting for social justice? Why?

2. What stops people from fighting for social justice? What effect does inaction by individuals have on social change?

3. Think about social changes that you have witnessed in your life. What factors brought them about?

4. Consider the following quotation by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in relation to what Nelson Mandela did to fight for justice and what any individual can do in the face of injustice

. "If an elephant is standing on the tail of a mouse and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." (from Waging Peace in our Schools, Lantieri, L. and Patti, J. Beacon Press, Boston, 1996)

Family Activities

Goal: The goal of this activity is to help family members see that individuals can take small actions that can make a difference in the area of social justice.


1. Begin by having each family member talk about an issue in their own lives or community or nation that they think is unjust. Each individual should focus on one issue he or she considers to be unjust, regardless of what other family members think about the importance of that particular issue.

2. Family members should now try to identify who benefits and who suffers as a result of each situation.

3. Now brainstorm ways in which an individual can take a small action directed towards changing the situation.

4. Finally, each family member should consider whether he or she would like to take a small action -- and what the possible consequences might be of acting or not acting.

Group Activity

Goal: Students will analyze the roles that the Nationalist Party and the ANC freedom fighters played in bringing about social change in South Africa.


1. In preparation for this activity, ask students to review the historical information presented in this guide or assign a more comprehensive research project so that students can consider the country's position during a particular decade.

2. Divide the students into two groups, with one group taking the point of view of the Nationalist Government and the second the ANC at that time. Ask each group to list their responses to the following questions. What did your group want? What methods were they using to achieve their goal? What was the impact of their methods on the other group?

3. Bring the two groups together and ask them to share what they learned. Write down their responses on a chalkboard.

4. Ask students to look for similarities and differences and to discuss them.

5. Ask students to consider South Africa as the democratic nation it is today. What was the long-term effect of each group's methods? What did each group gain and/or over time? What were the key factors that brought about social change?

Extension Activity

Invite students to compare and contrast the same periods of time in other countries such as the United States, East and West Germany, or The Soviet Union.

The Peoples of South Africa

The people of South Africa are very diverse, drawing their ancestry from Africa, Asia and Europe. Like in many other countries around the world, South Africa must struggle to address the wide range of needs represented by the different groups that call South Africa home. As an example, while English is the primary language used in business and industry, there are, in fact, eleven "official" languages. South Africa's diverse cultural fabric is acknowledged in the language of the first democratic Constitution, which required that all official government documents be printed in each of the country's eleven languages. Yet those eleven languages do not begin to represent the number of South Africa's ethnic groups. Within each of the major categories of people that live in South Africa - black, white, colored and Asian - there is significant diversity.

Blacks represent 76% of the population of South Africa. Within this group there are many tribes represented. The largest tribes include:

  •   Zulu, many of whom live in Kwa Zulu-Natal

  •   Xhosa who live mostly in Eastern Cape

  •   Southern Sotho who live in Eastern Free State

  •   Northern Sotho who live in Northern Transvaal

  •   Tswana who live near the border of Botswana

    Even in their religious beliefs, black Africans are diverse:

  •   Approximately 45% belong to Anglican, Dutch Reformed, Methodist or Roman Catholic churches.

  •   25% participate in traditional African religions.

  •   20% are connected to a Zion Christian Church or other "African indigenous churches"

    The white people of South Africa represent 13% of the country's population.

  •   60% of them are Afrikaners, most of who are connected to the Dutch Reform Church.

  •   40% of the white population are English speaking people who came to the country from England, Ireland and Scotland and Eastern Europe. They tend to be connected to the Anglican, Congregational, Methodist or Roman Catholic Church. There is also a significant Jewish population.

    Colored people in South Africa represent 9% of the population.

  •   Colored people are of mixed race. Their ancestors include black hunters and herders as well as black and Southeast Asian slaves, early white settlers, sailors, soldiers and travelers.

  •   Most are Anglican, Congregational, Dutch Reformed, Methodist or Roman Catholic.

    Asians make-up 2% of South Africa's population.

  •   The ancestors of this group came to South Africa from India and Pakistan to work on the sugar plantations in what is now KwaZulu-Natal.

  •   Religiously they are primarily Hindu or Muslims

    (Sources: The Long Walk to Freedom and/or The World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1998)


    In his youth, Nelson Mandela identified strongly as a black Xhosa, and also viewed white society in a positive light. Reflecting on his views at an early age, Mandela says

    " (I) looked on the white man not as an oppressor but as a benefactor...the education I received was a British education, in which British ideas, British culture, British institutions, were automatically assumed to be superior. There was no such thing as African culture." (Long Walk to Freedom, chapter 4)
    Over time, however, his views would undergo radical change.

    When Mandela was nineteen and a student at Healdtown, the Wesleyan College in Fort Beaufort, he began to question those early beliefs of the white man as benefactor, and simultaneously to take pride in his African culture. It was also during this period that Mandela grew to understand that his own position as royalty as a youth living in the Transkei had isolated him from the larger African people. He came to recognize that many tribes comprised black African culture and that though separated by language and custom, black Africans were united by common political realities and ideals. Further, he saw that despite Government attempts to divide and separate groups it was in fact possible for different black groups to live in harmony. These realizations catapulted Mandela into his life's work.

    Initially he was driven by the belief that the black struggle was for blacks alone, and the ANC, the organization he belonged to, rejected the inclusion of sympathetic non-blacks in their struggle. This led to an extended period during which his nationalism was paramount. During this time period, his political life began to take shape. In 1944, Nelson Mandela would take part in the formation of the ANC Youth League, representing the militant ideas of the young black nationalists. When the Youth League leadership was struggling with the issue of inclusion of supportive whites, coloreds or communists, Mandela and others felt "

    that if blacks were offered a multiracial form of struggle, they would remain enamored of white culture and fall prey to a continuing sense of inferiority."
    (Long Walk to Freedom, chapter 11) Therefore at that time, Mandela was opposed to allowing Communists or whites into the ANC. He believed strongly that it was pure African nationalism -- not communism or multi-racialism -- that would free his people.

    As the struggle for freedom intensified during the fifties and a greater number of non-blacks actively supported the ANC's goals, Mandela grew more open towards their inclusion in the ANC so long as their participation did not minimize or take away from ANC's nationalist efforts. With the formal inclusion of non-blacks in the ANC during the fifties, a small dissenting faction formed the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC).

    Mandela has spent his lifetime fighting for the rights of black Africans, and eventually came to include all the peoples of South Africa in the struggle for justice. He did so without compromising his own integrity or the integrity of his people. Like the tribal leaders he grew up with, he listens to the voices of all of the peoples of South Africa. He supports all efforts that enable groups to learn about one another and acknowledges all parties in the dialogue for South Africa's future. As the Chief says in the FRONTLINE film: "

    We, as Thembus, have no grudge against any wrongdoers. If we cross each other's road today, tomorrow that's long past and forgotten. That is a good symbol of a good leader, because if you are a leader, all people are your subjects. You have to listen to them. You have to pay homage to them when the occasion arises."
    In the new South Africa, he has reached out to the nation's white citizens and encouraged them to participate in building South Africa's new democracy. He knows that unless everyone is brought into the dialogue for peace and unity, neither can be long lasting.
    Discussion Questions

    1. What did the ANC gain and/or lose by including people of other races who were sympathetic to their cause?

    2. How do democracy and nationalism fit together?

    3. How are group pride and nationalism similar and different?

    5. In what ways can nationalism be destructive and/or beneficial?

    Family Activities

    Goal: Discuss the ways we determine our identity and group associations.


    1. Ask each family member to write down three words that they would use to identify themselves. Examples could be sister, friend, student, hospital volunteer, Muslim, etc.

    2. Have each person share his or her words and think about what categories they represent.

    3. Talk about why family members chose the three categories they did, and discuss what common words or categories members of the same family chose.

    4. Talk about your family's common identifying factors (such as religion or race) and those that are unique to particular individuals.

    5. Talk about the benefits and limitations of belonging to a particular group and share strategies for getting the best out of group membership without the limitations.

    Group Activity

    Goal: Students will consider the process of how people of different groups learn to live together.


    1. Begin by adapting the family activity (above) and invite students to write down three words that they would use to identify themselves. In pairs, they can share the words they used.

    2. As a large group, ask students to identify the various categories that were listed. Examples might be student, athlete, family member, etc. Ask students to think about which categories apply to all of them, and which apply to individuals or smaller groups.

    3. Ask students to identify the various groups that exist within your school or community. For each group, list the purpose and membership of the group.

    4. What are the similarities and differences between the groups' purpose and membership? Do any of the groups work successfully together or do any of them support one another's efforts? Is there conflict or competition between groups, and if so, what factors might account for this?

    5. Think about Nelson Mandela and the way in which the ANC began as a group that was for blacks only and was then expanded to become more inclusive. What was gained or lost in the expansion? How does or could that situation relate to groups within your school or community?

    6. Discuss ways in which groups can support your community and ways in which they can harm the community.

    7. What role does each individual play in supporting and/or isolating groups or group members? Share ideas and strategies for ways in which individuals, groups and those in power can help groups support the community.

    Conflict Resolution

    Nelson Mandela is by nature a peaceful and peace-loving man. But over the course of his life's work, he was forced to make difficult choices in order to achieve his ultimate goal of a democratic South Africa. While the ANC's initial policy was one of non-violence, over time they felt forced to re-evaluate its effectiveness and accepted violence as a strategy for achieving their goal. In the new South Africa, they have returned to their original policy of non-violence and Mandela was ultimately the recipient, along with F.W. DeKlerk, of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

    Drawing upon his heritage and experience with tribal leadership Mandela learned

    "... a timeless form of democracy, where you had to listen to everything everyone was saying (Long Walk to Freedom, chapter 3)
    ." Growing up with tribal traditions, Mandela's model was one of consensus building -- an approach in which the leader listens first and speaks last in an attempt to incorporate the views that have been expressed before him. In this model "
    Democracy meant all men were to be heard, and a decision was taken together as a people. Majority rule was a foreign notion. A minority was not to be crushed by a majority." (Long Walk to Freedom, chapter 2)

    Mandela's ideas about resolving conflict grew as he developed his sense of identity and a vision for leading his people. He combined the strategies and techniques he observed from tribal chiefs, his formal education and his exposure to the ways of the ruling parties. Mandela observed the ways of his oppressors and noted that they did little to discourage, and actually encouraged, division among the different tribes or groups of black, colored and asian South Africans. This taught him that leaders could use their power to bring people together or to tear them apart.

    During the course of his leadership, Mandela was convinced to abandon non-violence by the behavior of those in power. "

    Nonviolent passive resistance is effective as long as your opposition adheres to the same rules as you do," he said. "But if peaceful protest is met with violence, its efficacy is at an end. For me, non-violence was not a moral principle but a strategy; there is no moral goodness in using an ineffective weapon." (Long Walk to Freedom, chapter 17)
    Joe Matthews recalls Mandela's views in the FRONTLINE film:
    " From the beginning, Mandela did envisage an army developing out of this. Others thought we were only going to employ violence on symbolic targets, but Mandela was never a pacifist or, you know, someone who was worried about loss of life."
    Ultimately, Nelson Mandela did not promote violence; rather, he affirmed the right of all South Africans to live in equality and supported all means of achieving that goal.

    Nelson Mandela understood that resolving the seemingly irreconcilable differences in South Africa would require him to tame the fears of his opponents. He knew that the white leadership of South Africa was afraid of being overrun by black Africans. Their fear led them to exclude, oppress and abuse those that they hoped to control. Just as in everyday life where children may see fear turned outward in the guise of a bully on the playground, in South Africa, the actions were magnified a hundred-fold. Nelson Mandela knew that in order to gain freedom for his people he would have to allay the fears of his oppressors. Former political prisoner Tokyo Sexwale stated in the FRONTLINE film:

    " The liberation struggle of our people was not about liberating blacks from bondage, it was about liberating white people from fear."
    With great courage and integrity Nelson Mandela did just that.

    At the 1995 World Cup rugby final, Mandela put on a jersey of the South African Springboks, which under apartheid had been the exclusively white national rugby team. There stood Mandela wearing the trappings of the sport that black South Africans had always seen as that of the oppressor. In that moment, as Sexwale said "...there it was, fear melting away." White fear has yet to be eradicated in the new democratic South Africa. Yet, Nelson Mandela understands the fear of the whites and recognizes his role in liberating all South Africans from fear and oppression.

    Discussion Questions

    1. Think about the similarities and differences between the experiences of black South Africans during the years of apartheid and the Jews of Nazi Germany?

    2. Compare and contrast the battle against apartheid to the battle for Civil Rights in the United States.

    3. When, if ever, do you feel violence is a viable or effective strategy?

    Family Activities

    Goal: To consider how fear affects our behavior and can affect our ability to resolve conflicts.


    1. Explain to each participating family member that you want to talk about how our fears, or those of others, can change situations or the way that people behave in them.

    2. Ask each person to think of a conflict they experienced with another person.

    3. Let each person share their situation and then discuss what, if any, role fear might have played in the situation. Looking at the behavior of each person in the situation, could fear have been a factor? If so, what might each person have been afraid of? (Some examples of behaviors that may mask fear include bullying, name calling, exclusion, rudeness, lack of confidence expressed by a lack of caring or trying, and/or inappropriate laughing.)

    4. Next, discuss what strategies can prevent our fears or those of others from triggering conflicts. (Possible strategies could include deep breathing, walking away, deferring conversations to a later time, getting more information, or asking for help.)

    Group Activity

    Goal: To consider the purpose of laws and rules and how they can support or divide groups.


    1. Ask participants to identify the general purpose of rules and laws. Why are they made? List the answers where everyone can see them.

    2. Have the group list some of the rules that exist in your school and community.

    3. Now divide students into two groups. One group should examine the rules and list those that support the community. The second group should list those that divide the community. Each group should consider the following questions. What are the common factors of the rules or laws in their group? Why was the rule/law was created? Whose interests does it serve? Ask a representative from each group to share their findings with the large group.

    4. Individually, in pairs or small groups, have students develop guidelines that they feel would be fair for creating rules/laws.


    Afrikaners - Afrikaans speaking descendants of the early Dutch and French settlers who arrived in South Africa beginning in 1652.

    Afrikaans - The language of the minority white population of South Africa and one of two official languages during the Nationalist Party rule.

    African National Congress (ANC) - The leading anti-Apartheid organization and now the majority party in South Africa's Government of National Unity.

    ANC Youth League - Founded in 1944 by Nelson Mandela and other young nationalist members of the ANC to steer the parent organization toward a more militant mass resistance agenda.

    Apartheid - An Afrikaans word meaning "apartness" and representing South Africa's institutionalized racial segregation policy.

    Bantu - Identifies a particular group of people coming from Central to Southern Africa. The Nationalist government used this term in a derogatory way to identify Black Africans.

    Boers - Afrikaans word meaning farmers, these were the first White settlers from Holland who arrived in South Africa in 1652.

    Colored - A classification given to people of mixed race.

    Homelands - Nine mini-states designated by the ruling Nationalist Party as self governing black areas intended to segregate blacks and limit their contact with the minority white population. More than 80% of the population were relegated to these nine states which represented approximately 13% of the total land. The homelands were carved out of the least agriculturally and economically desirable land in the country.

    Nationalist Party - White minority party that came to power in 1948 and institutionalized the system of apartheid.

    Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) - A Black nationalist organization founded in 1959 after a split with the ANC.

    Townships - Areas with minimal municipal services near cities that were designated as living areas for members of specific racial groups in order to separate them from Whites. For example, Soweto (South West Township) is a black township in the Johannesburg area.

    Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) -

    Underground militant wing founded by ANC in 1961 to "hit back by all means within our power in defense of our people, our future and our freedom."

    outline: apartheid laws

    1909 South Africa Act - Established the South African Union and concentrated power in an all-white parliament.

    1911 & 1926 Mines & Works Act - Imposed a color ban on certain jobs, and declared salaries for whites to be higher than blacks at all times.

    1913 & 1936 Natives Land Acts - Allocated 13% of the total land for black use and reserved almost 90% for the white minority population.

    1923 Natives (Urban Areas) Act - Provided for residential segregation in cities. Blacks had to carry special papers to stay in the cities.

    1937 Native Laws Amendment Act - Extended the long-established system of pass laws, requiring all Blacks to carry identification and to have authorization before entering restricted White areas.

    1949 Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act - Banned marriages between Blacks and Whites.

    1950 Population Registration Act - Forced all South Africans to register by color: White, Bantu (Black), Asian (Indian and Pakistani immigrants) or Colored (people of mixed race).

    1950 Immorality Act - Banned sexual relations between Black and White people

    1950 Group Areas Act - Established separate geographic areas for each race. Members of different racial groups were forbidden to live, work or own land in areas belonging to other races. The Act also extended the pass laws requiring non-whites to carry a special "pass" to prove they had permission to travel in white areas.

    1953 Criminal Law Amendment Act - Imposed stiff penalties such as fines, prison and flogging for protest or incitement to protest.

    1953 Reservation of Separate Amenities Act - Legislated segregation on buses, in parks and other public places.

    1953 Bantu Education Act - Enforced racial segregation of schools by imposing an inferior system of education on Black people.

    1954 Natives Resettlement Act - Empowered the government to forcibly resettle Blacks.

    1956 Industrial Conciliation Act - Empowered the Minister of Labor to reserve any job on a racial basis and to dissolve racially mixed trade unions.

    1959 Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act - Removed the limited Black representation in Parliament and created separate Black homelands.

    1970 Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act - Made every Black a citizen of a homeland rather than a citizen of South Africa.

    1983 Constitutional Act 1983 - Established a tri-cameral parliament with separate chambers for whites, colored and Asians, while denying representation for Blacks


    This guide was developed by Media Education Consultants of Brookline, Massachusetts and written by Simone Bloom Nathan, Janice Ditchek and Caren Keller Niss with input from advisors, Geoffrey Norman and Christopher J. Nteta, Professor of Black Studies at the College of Public and Community Service at UMASS, Boston.

    Major funding for "The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela" was provided by Daimler-Chrysler. Additional funding was provided by US News and World Report. Funding for this guide was provided by Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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