Share via Whatsapp

Factors For the Rise of Nationalism in Africa

  1. The exposure of Africans to severe economic exploitation during the colonial period. For example land alienation in the Kenya Highlands, in southern Rhodesian, Algeria and South Africa which was accompanied with forced labour where the labourers faced mistreatment.
  2. Africans were fed up of heavy and harsh taxation by the Europeans. They were exposed to heavy taxation, ranging from hut tax to breast tax in Belgian Congo.
  3. Africans were fed up with the gradual destruction of their culture by the whites. Missionaries totally dismissed the age-old African traditions as being barbaric. This explains why independent schools and churches sprung up in central Kenya.
  4. The introduction of racial discrimination to go hand in hand with colonialism. All the best social amenities in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya were reserved for the whites. The Europeans equated the black colour with low intelligence, uncivilized and a backward race.
  5. Africans resented colonialism because it interfered with their political institutions. The colonial rulers disregarded traditional rulers, appointing their own puppets in their place.
  6. The Acquisition of western education by many Africans by 1945 enabled them to articulate their grievances more forcefully and to understand political developments outside Africa.
  7. The return of the ex-servicemen after the second world war which exposed the myth of the white supremacy making Africans ready to fight them. Moreover, the colonial government failed to reward African ex-soldiers to embitter them more.
  8. The change of government from Conservative to Labour Party in Britain in 1946 stimulated a new attitude in Britain towards decolonization. This motivated African nationalists.
  9. The rise of nationalism in Asia, culminating into the granting of independence to India and Pakistan in 1947 aroused great confidence among Africans who worked closely with Asian nationalists like Jawaharlal Nehru, the India Prime Minister.
  10. The rise of Pan-Africanism in Africa after the 1945 Manchester conference contributed to the new demands for political independence in Africa Many African élites attended the conference which served as a source of awakening.
  11. The formation of the UNO and the pressure it exerted on the European powers to decolonize helped the Africans in their course.
  12. The emergence of United States and the Soviet Union as super powers in the world contributed to the decolonization process. USA was keen to see Britain and France grant independence to their subjects in the world in order to secure new markets.
  13. The signing of the Atlantic Charter in 1941 by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt which demanded that when the WWII ended, all subject peoples should enjoy the right to self-determination.

Nationalism in Ghana

The British annexed Gold Coast in 1874 after quelling a stiff resistance by the Asante. In response to the British imperialism, the Fonte Confederation was initiated in 1868, marking the birth of African Nationalism in Ghana. In 1897, the Aborigines Rights Protection Society was formed to guard against the alienation of African land.In the 1930s, African elites like J.B. Danquah launched the Gold Coast Youth Conference in order to awaken the youth to the economic and social needs of the country.Their efforts bore fruits because in 1946, governor Burns embarked on constitutional reforms leading to increased African representation in the LegCo. (Of the 18 slots given to Africans in the LegCo, 13 were to drawn from among the chiefs while 5 were to be popularly elected).

The elites formed the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) and invited Kwame Nkrumah, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, to come and lead it since most of them were professionals lacking time for political commitment. Nkrumah appeared to have more political experience having participated in the 1945 Manchester conference.

Factors for the Growth of Nationalism in Ghana

  1. The early Introduction of cocoa growing led to adoption of money economy in Ghana ahead of other countries. This enabled faster social and economic transformation of the people.
  2. The colonial government’s attempt to tamper with cocoa growing by ordering cutting of coca trees hurt people to the level of developing nationalistic feelings against the British.
  3. Ghana was one of the first countries in Africa to receive western education from the missionaries. There was a large class of elites with western university education accompanied with leadership skills to spearhead nationalism their country.
  4. The existence of ex-servicemen in Ghana also played an important role in the campaign for independence.
  5. The granting of trading licences by the government selectively to European traders while deliberately denying then Africans.
  6. Ghana had comparatively better developed transport and communication system. Also being a small country, movement of information, ideas and people was easy, quick and efficient. This facilitated nationalist activities.
  7. The charismatic and strong leadership provided by Kwame Nkrumah brought cohesiveness among people of Ghana. He formed the CPP party, which became the symbol of struggle for the oppressed people of Ghana.
  8. The participation of Kwame Nkrumah in the Pan-African Manchester conference in 1945, which championed the right of countries to self-determination, made the country take the lead in Africa in championing this right.
  9. The people of Ghana were more exposed to international affairs than other countries in Africa due to its location in a region, which had the earliest contacts with European traders and colonizers.

The Peak of Nationalism in Ghana

 On 28th February 1948, the ex-soldiers led the Accra riots, protesting to Governor Gerald Creasy the failed fulfillment of the government pledges while in service during the World WarII. Two rioters were killed. The shooting incident sparked of chaos in the town leading to another 29 Africans being killed. Nkrumah was arrested together with his colleagues popularly known as the ‘Big Six’. (Nkrumah, Danquah, William Ofori, Addo, Adjei and Obetsebi Lamptey).

This arrest popularized Nkrumah among the Africans. The 1948 Alken Watson commission blamed the social-economic oppression for the riots. The governor ordered for constitutional reforms led by J.H Coussey.

On 12th June 1949, Nkrumah broke ranks with the conservative UGCC senior members and formed the Convention People’s Party (CPP). His party gained support mainly from among the primary school leavers, store-keepers, artisans, peasants and cocoa farmers. Nkrumah advocated positive action through legitimate political action, newspaper and political campaigns and constitutional application of boycotts, strikes and non-cooperation based on the policy of absolute non-violence on the basis of Mahatma Gandhi teachings. He started a newspaper, The Accra Evening News to expound CPP views.

He was arrested, but secured landslide victory in the February 1951 elections while in jail. He was released to become the leader of government business in the new cabinet. CPP also won in the 1954 elections in which a new party, the National Liberation Movement (NLM) had emerged to compete CPP. NLM membership mainly from the Ashanti, were uncomfortable with Nkrumah because;

  • He came from a small ethnic group little known in southern Ghana.
  • His radicalism did not please the conservative Ashanti leaders.

Again elections were called in July 1956 and CPP trounced NLM. This time, the British accepted the results and on 6th March 1957, the country attained political independence under Kwame Nkrumah

Achievements of CPP under Kwame Nkrumah

  1. CPP under Nkrumah united Africans of all ranks in Ghana in the struggle for national liberation.
  2. The party introduced the concept of positive action to pressurize the government to liberate Africans.
  3. CPP formed the first African government in Africa in 1951 after winning the elections. Under Nkrumah’s leadership, Ghana began attaining economic development.
  4. CPP, under Nkrumah, advocated for unity of all Africans in the country us other parties like NLM advocated for regionalism, a factor that enhanced progress towards political libration.

How Kwame Nkrumah Contributed to the Liberation Struggle in Africa.

  1. He funded nationalists in other countries e.g. Guinea and Algeria.
  2. He supported other African leaders who faced political threats from their former colonial masters.
  3. When some countries were faced with threats from their former colonial masters after independence like in the case of Patrice Lumumba in DRC, Nkrumah provided them with his support.
  4. He championed trade unionism in Africa.
  5. He attended pan-African congress in 1945 which was key to defining the liberation struggles in Africa.
  6. He initiated the formation of the Ghana- Guinea Union in 1958 as a practical step towards building African unity.
  7. He convened two pan-African conferences in April 1958 and the all African Peoples conference in December 1958 that led to the formation of O.A.U in 1963.

Nationalism in Mozambique

Mozambique was among the last countries in Africa to attain independence from the Portuguese. Even before the Berlin conference, Mozambique and Angola were considered Portuguese colonies owing to the later’s interests in the region dating back to the pioneer years.

Reasons for Slow Process in Decolonization Process of Mozambique.

  1. Mozambique was colonized by a colonial power that was very poor and backward and which needed to keep its hold on her to enable her economy grow. She was an important source of revenue for the Lisbon government.
  2. Mozambique housed many settlers who had invested heavily in farming, mining, building, construction and in other sectors. They were therefore reluctant to leave.
  3. Mozambique was an important market for Portuguese products. Portugal was not willing to let go easily.
  4. The support, which the colonial government got from South Africa, enabled them to get uranium, which they used, for making bombs used to suppress African independence riots. They also got electricity and assistance to built caborra bassa dam on Zambezi.
  5. Mozambique was big geographically with very poor infrastructure i.e. roads and communication facilities. This hampered fast movement of people and ideas.
  6. Unlike other colonized countries, Mozambique suffered the worst kind of exploitation and repression/ rigorous censorship and surveillance by security forces, which discouraged emergence of nationalism.
  7. The Portuguese practiced racism out of fear that if they educated Africans and gave them equal status, the Africans would outnumber them and throw them out.

Factors for the growth of nationalism in Mozambique

  1. The arbitrary replacement of the traditional rulers by the Portuguese administrators whenever they felt they were not performing.
  2. The massive alienation of African land by the Portuguese who pushed Africans to regions of unfavourable conditions.
  3. The exposure of Africans to severe economic exploitation like forced labour where the labourers faced mistreatment.
  4. The rampant racial discrimination through which Africans continued to lose agricultural land to the Europeans. Being from a poor country, the Europeans competed with Africans for simple jobs like taxi driving and often gaining advantage on racial lines.
  5. The Portuguese imposed many restrictions on Africans, limiting their freedom of expression and intellectual advancement. For example, General Salazar, who rose to power in the 1920s, ensured strict censorship of the press.
  6. The security police treated Africans with great cruelty. Any political unrest was crushed ruthlessly.

The Peak of Nationalism in Mozambique

In early 1960, the Makonde people of Cabo Delgado province formed the Mozambican Makonde Union (MANU).

In June 1960 MANU organized a peaceful protest but in which over 600 Africans perished in police firepower. The government outlawed all African organizations with membership of over thirty people. African political activities went underground.

Mwalimu Julius Nyerere inviting some of the liberation groups to relocate to Tanzania in 1962. The political groups united to form the Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO) with Eduardo Mondlane Chirambo, formerly a lecturer at Syracuse University in USA, as its first president.

From 1962 to 1964, FRELIMO undertook guerilla training in Bagamoyo and at the Mozambique institute in Dar es Salam in preparation for war. From September 1964, they began a full-scale war against the Portuguese along river Ruvuma and extending their attacks on the Cabo Delgado province. By 1967, the Portuguese forces numbered 65,000 soldiers.

Mondlane Eduardo was assassinated in 1969. Samora Machel was elected to become the FRELIMO army commander in 1970. The coup d’etat in Lisbon in 1974 was a blessing to FRELIMO movement since soldiers who did not favour colonial wars by Marcello Caetano carried it out. The new military junta finally signed an agreement with FRELIMO the enabled the setting up of a transitional government in September 1974. He handed over power to the Africans in 1975 with Samora Machel becoming the first president.

Machel died in 1986 in a plane crash blamed on the South African Apartheid regime, unhappy with his support for African nationalists in South Africa. Samora Machel’s widow, Graca Machel, married South African President Nelson Mandela in 1994.

Reasons why the Struggle for Independence in Mozambique was Violent

  1. The depth of suffering by ordinary people in Mozambique was unbearable.
  2. The harshness of the Portuguese administration could only be matched with similar violence.
  3. The unwillingness of Portugal to ease her colonial hold and begin the process of decolonization. (they were deeply entrenched in Mozambique)
  4. Extreme exploitation of Mozambique resources e.g. land, labour, minerals.
  5. Widespread land alienation left many landless.
  6. To uproot the Portuguese from Mozambique, they had to use full-scale military operation by the liberators because the masters did not see any sense of granting Mozambique independence peacefully.

Factors that Facilitated the Defeat of the Portuguese Colonial Armies by FRELIMO in Mozambique

  1. A few Africans were privileged to acquire university education in Portugal and came to form the bulk of FRELIMO leadership.
  2. The overwhelming support Mozambique fighters received from other African states e.g. Tanzania, Zimbabwe and DRC. From these countries, they gained moral and military support.
  3. FRELIMO was a formidable, well-organized force, which witnessed rapid expansion from a mere 250 in 1964 to 35000 in 1967.
  4. The forested environment favoured guerilla warfare. Moreover, the soldiers knew the topography of the country.
  5. The local population gave their logistic support to the fighters, having become tired of the extreme suppression by the Portuguese administration.
  6. The movement fighters had their own supply of food.
  7. African countries through OAU were united against the Portuguese in Mozambique.
  8. The communist countries notably USSR and china gave FRELIMO military aid.
  9. FRELIMO adopted the right strategy; liberating the country bit by bit and systematically. This approach won the local people’s support for the movement.
  10. The FRELIMO Army consisted of all tribes, all sexes and all ages. The women played a very important role in the success of the war. I.e. spies, some fought, hiding the fighters and cooking for them.

Problems that Faced FRELIMO in the war against Portuguese

  1. Africans experienced severe shortage of basic needs while in the forests. The government forces ensured that food and other supplies did not reach the fighters.
  2. The attitude of the church in Mozambique made many African faithful reluctant to support the liberation war. The church termed FRELIMO a terrorist organization.
  3. FRELIMO suffered internal divisions due to ideological differences and selfish ambitions among some of the nationalists. African elites like Reverend Uria Simango and Lazaro Kavandame saw FRELIMO as an instrument of acquiring assets for their own selfish benefits.
  4. Competition from rival guerilla movements like Revolutionary Committee of Mozambique (COREMO) which broke away from FRELIMO in 1965 due to the later’s lean towards socialism.
  5. The assassination of FRELIMO leader Eduardo Mondlane in Da es Salaam on 3rd February 1969 was a great blow to the nationalists.
  6. The brutality employed by the Portuguese in dealing with FRELIMO sympathizers. For example at Wiriyamu, in December 1972, 400 civilians, protesting against the Portuguese administration, were massacred.
  7. The apartheid regime in South Africa and the Unilateral Declaration of Independence regime in south Rhodesia combined forces to fight the nationalists in Mozambique since they were a threat to their countries.

South Africa

The complex nature of nationalism in South Africa was due to the following reasons;

  1. The country was not colonized by one specific European power.
  2. The existence of valuable mineral deposits made the Europeans more aggressive in their efforts to control the wealth in South Africa. There existed different types of nationalism in South Africa namely;
    • The British nationalism
    • Afrikaner nationalism
    • African nationalism.

Afrikaner Nationalism

Afrikaners were the Dutch speaking – speaking settlers. The Afrikaner nationalism emerged in the 19th century reaching its peak in 1948 when their Nationalist Party under Daniel F. Malanwon the lections introducing the Apartheid policy.

Reasons for the birth of Afrikaner Nationalism in South Africa.

  1. The desire to regain the culture against Anglicization, which they considered, was alien. (Anglicization of power, language and cultures)
  2. The Boers hated the British rule, which they considered as alien.
  3. The British were dominant in many spheres of life yet they could neither speak nor understand Afrikaners’ language.
  4. The Boers wanted to rule South Africa and restore Boer culture, language, education and literature.
  5. They favoured republican states and complete independence for South Africa and noncooperation with British to fulfill their divine mission of bringing civilization to the heathen.
  6. The Jameson raid flared up Boer sentiments. Jameson, a Briton led a force of 500 soldiers to invade Transvaal, a Boer territory.
  7. Formation of union of South Africa under British terms.

African Nationalism

Its roots are traced in the 17th century with the first Boer occupation of South Africa. Africans resisted strongly against the interference with their political freedom and economic resources. This was in form of the Xhosa and Ndebele wars of the 17th c and the Zulu wars of 1870s led by Cetewayo.In 1906, a Zulu chief named Bambata staged another African uprising this time against the British who had annexed the Zululand in 1887.From 1910, when the union of South Africa was created and the Afrikaners gained political control of South Africa, Africans lost all the political privileges they previously enjoyed like ability to vote and contest parliamentary seats.Africans founded independent churches and formed organizations like the Orange River Organization.

Factors for the growth of African nationalism in South Africa

  1. The role of the Christian religion whose ideals encouraged Africans to fight for equality, as all people were equal before God. The Boers however treated Africans with contempt.
  2. The exposure of Africans to severe economic exploitation like land alienation and causing them to be subjected to forced labour on Afrikaner farms. Even the native Land Act of 1913 denied Africans the right to purchase land outside the areas set aside for Africans.
  3. The influence of Pan-Africanism in South Africa as early as the 19th century when people like Rev. Dube founded the Ohlange Institute to educate fellow Africans in South Africa.
  4. The introduction of racial discrimination enshrined in the apartheid law of 1948 convinced Africans that only freedom could save them. All the best hotels, restaurants, schools, recreational centres and most fertile soils were reserved for the whites only.
  5. The Acquisition of western education by many Africans like Rev. Dube, Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela enabled them to articulate their grievances more forcefully. They became pioneers of early African political parties.
  6. The return of the ex-servicemen after the second world war which exposed the myth of the white supremacy making Africans ready to fight them. The war also exposed them to democratic ideals elsewhere.
  7. The great exploitation of African labour through Labour regulations and laws. For example, the Mines and Works Act of 1911 effectively excluded Africans from all skilled occupations confining them to manual occupations in Mines and farms.
  8. The development of large urban centres created an enabling environment for Africans to forge close inter-ethnic relations that enabled them to counter the Afrikaner racist policies.

Formation of the African National Congress, 1912

Opposition to the Natives Land Act led to the formation of the South African Native NationalCongress (renamed the African National Congress [ANC] in 1923) by South Africa's educated African elite in a meeting at Bloemfontein on January 8, 1912.

  • The founding president was John L. Dube, a minister and schoolteacher.
  • Pixley Ka Isaka Seme, a lawyer, was appointed treasurer.
  • Solomon T. Plaatye, a court translator, became secretary general.
  • Other members were Thomas Mapikela, Walter Robusana, Solomon Plaatye and Sam Makgatho.The congress was moderate in composition, tone, and practice. However, In 1940s, a militant form of nationalism emerged under the ANC Youth League formed in 1943 led by Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo, emphasizing the inalienable right of the Africans to the African continent. As a result of the League’s activities, violent confrontations between ANC and the government broke out in 1952 in Witwatersrand, Kimberley and Eastern Cape.The Congress of the People and the Freedom CharterIn 1952, Albert Sisulu became the president of the organization and presided over the ‘congress of the people’ which adopted the ‘Freedom Charter’ on June 25 and June 26 1955.The congress drew 3,000 delegates from;
    • The black (the ANC).
    • White (the Congress of Democrats).
    • Indian and coloured (the the SA Coloured People's Congress) political organizations
    • The multiracial South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU).

The Freedom Charter emphasized that South Africa should be a non-racial society with no particular group assumed to have special rights or privileges. After adoption of the charter, in 1956 the police arrested 156 leaders, including Luthuli, Mandela, Tambo, Sisulu, and others, and put them on trial for treason in a court case that dragged on for five years. The Pan-Africanist Congress and Sharpeville. The Africanists, led by Robert Sobukwe, criticized the ANC for allowing itself to be dominated by 'liberal-left-multi-racialists”. They formed their own organization, the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) in 1959.

In March 1960, the PAC began a national campaign against the pass laws. One such demonstration outside the police station at Sharpeville, the police fired on the demonstrators, killing at least 76 of them and wounding 186. Approximately 18,000 demonstrators were arrested, including the leaders of the ANC and the PAC, and both organizations outlawed.

The ANC and the PAC Turn to Violence

Prohibited from operating, both the ANC and the PAC established underground organizations in 1961. The militant wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), targeted strategic places such as police stations and power plants. Poqo (Blacks Only), the militant wing of the PAC, engaged in a campaign of terror, targeting in particular African chiefs and headmen believed to be collaborators with the government and killing them.

17 Umkhonto leaders, including Walter Sisulu were arrested at Rivonia farm house. Along with Nelson Mandela, they were tried for treason. Albert Luthuli was confined by government to his rural home in Zululand until his death in 1967. Tambo escaped from South Africa and became president of the ANC in exile. Robert Sobukwe of Poqo was jailed on Robben Island until 1969 and then placed under house arrest in Kimberley until his death in 1978. The Johannesburg railway station bomber, John Harris, was hanged.

The Black Conscious Movement - Soweto, 1976

In the absence of other forms of political expression, young people sought alternative means to express their political aspirations. African university students, disappointed with the multiracial National Union of South African Students (NUSAS), decided to establish the South African Students' Organization (SASO) in 1969 with Steve Biko, an African medical student at the University of Natal, as president.In 1972, a Black allied workers’ union and the Black Peoples' Convention (BPC) was set up to act as a political umbrella organization for the adherents of black consciousness.

In 1972, SASO organized strikes on university campuses resulting in the arrest of more than 600 students. On June 16, 1976, hundreds of high-school students in Soweto marched in protest against use of Afrikaans as a Language of instruction. Over 360 African school children were killed.On 12th September 1977, Steve Biko, who had been held in indefinite detention, died from massive head injuries sustained during police interrogation. In October 1977, SASO, the BPC and all black consciousness organizations were banned.

The Peak of African Nationalism in South Africa

In 1983, P.W. Botha's government proposed establishment of separate houses of parliament for each racial group. In place of the single House of Parliament were;

  • A 50-member (all-white) House of Assembly.
  • A 25-member (coloured) House of Representatives.
  • A 13 member (Indian) House of Delegates.


Implications and results

  • Whites thus retained a majority in any joint session.
  • Liberal government opponents denounced Botha's plans arguing it would permanentlyexclude Africans from any political role in South Africa.
  • Most blacks strongly condemned the new constitution as it reinforced the apartheid notion.
  • Indians and coloureds also condemned the constitution feeling it weakened their participation in the political process
  • Radical Afrikaners, led by Eugene Terry Blanche, vowed to use all means, including violence, to make sure that apartheid was not weakened.The United Democratic Front (UDF), which was formed in late 1983 and the National Front (NF) aimed to use nonviolent means to persuade the government to withdraw its constitutional proposals and do away with apartheid. The UDF membership included, Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Reverend Allan Boesak, who emerged as its prime spokesmen.Black trade unions meanwhile resorted to economic and political protests. For example, TheNational Union of Mineworkers (NUM), formed in 1983 by Cyril Ramaphosa, successfully brought work in mines to a stop in a dispute over wage increases. By end of 1985, 879, fatalities and 8000 arrests were linked to political unrest. ANC and UDF were banned.Meanwhile, Supporters of the Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the banned ANC clashed in an upsurge of "black-on-black" violence that would cause as many as 10,000 deaths by 1994.President Botha resigned under pressure on August 14, 1989, the Electoral College named de Klerk to succeed him in a five-year term as president. In October 1989, De Klerk released Walter Sisulu and others except Mandela. He announced on February 2, 1990, the impending release of Mandela and unbanning of the ANC, the PAC, and the SACP, and the removal of restrictions on the UDF and other legal political organizations. Mandela was released on February 11, 1990, at age 71 after 27 years in prison. ANC officials elected Mandela deputy president in March 1990, under ailing president, Oliver Tambo.Between June 5, 1991 and June 17, 1991, the government repealed the pillars of apartheid, the Land Act of 1913, the Group Areas Act of 1950 and Population Registration Act of 1950, (the most infamous, which had authorized the registration by race of newborn babies and immigrants). Most international sanctions were lifted soon after the Population Registration Act, Group Areas Act, and Land Acts were repealed.

In mid-1992 due to escalating violence, by IFP supporters on ANC sympathizers in Boipatong delayed the process of negotiation for elections. On March 5, 1993, Chris Hani, the popular general secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP), was murdered threatening the process again.

On April 12, 1994, a team headed by former British foreign secretary Lord Carrington and former United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger attempted in vain to break the logjam that was keeping the IFP out of the elections. However, on April 19, Buthelezi --under intense pressure from trusted local and international figures—including a Kenyan diplomat professor Washington Okumu, relented and agreed to allow the IFP to be placed on the ballot.

When the elections finally took place on schedule, beginning on April 26, 1994, ANC won 62.6 percent of the vote; the NP, 20.4 percent; and the IFP, 10.5 percent. Mandela was unanimously elected president by the National Assembly on May 9, 1994, in Cape Town. He was inaugurated on May 10 at ceremonies in Pretoria.

Key South African Nationalists

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in Umtata, to a Thembu royal family of Transkei. His forename Rolihlahla, means "troublemaker". Later he was given a clans’ name, Mandiba. His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, was a local chief and councillor to the monarch. In 1926, Gadla was sacked for corruption. Nelson's mother was Gadla's third wife, Nosekeni Fanny, a member of the amaMpemvu clan of Xhosa.

At a local Methodist school when he was about seven, he was baptised and given the English forename of "Nelson". His father died of an undiagnosed ailment when he was nine. Aged 16, he underwent the circumcision.

Mandela joined Clarkebury Boarding Institute in Engcobo, the best secondary school for black Africans in Thembuland. In 1937, he moved to Healdtown, the Wesleyan college in Fort Beaufort where he took an interest in boxing and running. Mandela joined Fort Hare University, where he met Oliver Tambo, a long time friend. He was studying Bachelor of Arts but was expelled in his first year for being involved in a Students' Representative Council boycott against university policies. Mandela relocated to Johannesburg, fearing early forced marriage, where met with his friend and mentor, Walter Sisulu.

After 1948 Mandela began actively participating in politics. He led in the ANC's 1952 Defiance Campaign as secretary General of the youth league. Mandela and 150 other participants in the freedom charter adoption were arrested on 5 December 1956 and charged with treason. In 1961 Mandela became leader of the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). He coordinated sabotage campaigns against military and government targets.On 5 August 1962 Mandela was arrested and was imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort. On 11 July 1963 police arrested other prominent ANC leaders at Rivonia, north of Johannesburg. Together with Mandela, they were charged with capital crimes of sabotage at the Rivonia Trial. All were sentenced to life imprisonment on 12 June 1964 on Robben Island. Mandela remained there for the next 18 of his 27 years in prison. In March 1982 Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison, along with other senior ANC leaders. In 1988 Mandela was moved to Victor Verster Prison where he remained until his release on 11 February 1990. Mandela returned to the leadership of the ANC led the party in the multi-party negotiations that led to the country's first multi-racial elections in 1994. Mandela and President F. W. de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Mandela, as leader of the ANC, was inaugurated on 10 May 1994 as the country's first black President after the 27th May 1994 Elections.As President from May 1994 until June 1999, Mandela presided over the transition from minority rule and apartheid. He helped to resolve the long-running dispute between Libya on one hand, and the US and Britain, over bringing to trial the two Libyans indicted of the Lockerbie bombing on 21 December 1988. Mandela decided not to stand for a second term and retired in 1999, to be succeeded by Thabo Mbeki. In July 2001 Mandela was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer.

In June 2004, at age 85, Mandela announced that he would be retiring from public life. On 8th December 2012; Mandela was hospitalized at a Military Hospital near Pretoria suffering from a recurring lung infection. On 15 December, Mandela had surgery to have gallstones removed. He was released from the hospital on 26 December 2012.Until July 2008 Mandela and ANC party members were barred from entering the United States—except to visit the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan—without a special waiver from the US Secretary of State, because of their South African apartheid-era designation as terrorists.

Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe

Sobukwe was born in Graaff-Reinet in the Cape Province on the 5 December 1924. He attended a Methodist college at Healdtown and later Fort Hare University where he joined the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) in 1948. In 1949 Sobukwe was elected as president of the Fort Hare Students' Representative Council.

In 1950 Sobukwe was appointed as a teacher at a high school in Standerton. In 1954 Sobukwe became a lecturer of African Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. He identified with the Africanists within the African National Congress. He edited The Africanist Newspaper in 1957, criticizing the ANC for allowing itself to be dominated by 'liberal-left-multi-racialists”. He later left ANC to form the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). He became its first President in 1959.

On 21 March 1960, Sobukwe led a march of PAC supporters to the local police station at Orlando, Soweto in order to openly defy the Pass laws. In a similar protest in Sharpeville, police opened fire on a crowd, killing 69 in the Sharpeville Massacre. Sobukwe was arrested, convictedof incitement, sentenced to three years in prison and later interned on Robben Island. Sobukwe was released in 1969 and allowed to live in Kimberley with his family under house arrest. He died on 27 Feb. 1978 Due to lung cancer and was buried in Graaf-Reinet on 11 March 1978.


Albert Luthuli

Albert Luthuli was born near Bulawayo, Rhodesia, around 1898 to a Seventh-day Adventist missionary John Bunyan Luthuli and Mtonya Gumede. When His father died, his mother returned to her ancestral home, Groutville in Stanger, Natal, South Africa to stay with his uncle, Martin Luthuli. On completing a teaching course at Edendale, Luthuli became principal and only teacher at a primary school in rural Blaauwbosch, Natal. Here he also became a lay preacher.

In 1920 he declined a scholarship to University of Fort Hare to provide financial support for his mother. In1928 he became secretary of the African Teacher's Association and in 1933 its president. He was also active in missionary work. He became chief in 1936, until removed from this office by the government in 1952 due to what colonial authority called conflict of interest.In 1944 Luthuli joined the African National Congress (ANC).

In 1945 he was elected to the Committee of the KwaZulu Province Provincial Division of ANC. A month later Luthuli was elected president-general of ANC. In 1955, he attended an ANC conference only to be arrested and charged with treason a few months later, along with 155 others. In December 1957, Luthuli was released and the charges against him dropped. Luthuli’s leadership of the ANC covered the period of violent disputes between the party's "Africanist" and "Charterist" wings. In 1962 he was elected Rector of the University of Glasgow by the students, serving until 1965. In 1962 he published an autobiography titled: LET MY PEOPLE GO. In July 1967, at the age of 69, he was fatally injured in an accident near his home in Stanger.

Methods used by Nationalists in South Africa in their Struggle for Liberation from White Minority Rule

  1. They used force to fight for their independence.
  2. Africans used mass media to articulate their grievances, spread propaganda and mobilize the masses.
  3. Riots e.g. the Soweto riots of 1976 against the proposal to make Afrikaner (Boer language) the medium of instruction in all schools.
  4. There were demonstrations against Press Laws in 1960 at Sharpeville leading to massacres.
  5. Guerilla fighters trained in Algeria, Ghana etc carried out acts of sabotage like bombing strategic installations and power plants.
  6. The role of the clergy .e.g. Desmond Tutu who bitterly campaigned worldwide against apartheid.
  7. Use of diplomacy and negotiations to convince the whites about the futility of apartheid policy.
  8. Use of slogans such as Freedom Charter (1955) which proclaimed south Africa belonged to all races and called for political, social and economic equality
  9. They sent petitions, delegations to international forum.
  10. They formed political parties e.g. ANC, PAC, UDF and trade union activism to pressurize the government to change.
  11. They used job boycotts and strikes.
  12. They organized defiance campaigns and demonstrations in the streets to provoke the police to arrest them.
  13. They formed underground movements after the Umkhonto we Sizwe.
  14. Pressure from youth groups e.g. Steve Biko formed the Black Consciousness Movement as a weapon to counter oppression through organized strikes.
  15. Africans serving jail terms organized hunger strikes.

Problems Encountered by African Nationalists in South Africa

  1. The colonial government employed the method of Banning of political organizations as a means of frustrating the struggle for independence. .g ANC, PAC, and CP which restricted their activities
  2. The Nationalists were harassed, arrested and detained or jailed by the authorities e.g. Mandela, Oliver Tambo Sisulu, Sobukwe e.t.c
  3. Many were forced into exile or flee the country in search of political asylum and restriction.
  4. A lot of violence was unleashed on them/ Killing of many nationalists and Africans such as Steve Biko and the 1960 Sharpeville massacre of school children spreading fear.
  5. Deliberate policy of divide and rule was employed to weaken African unity e.g. establishment of black homelands or Bantustans which eventually brewed the conflict between ANC and IFP of Buthelezi.
  6. The racist regime used emergency powers to harass and frustrate Nationalist leaders.
  7. The nationalists faced the problem of lack of money and other resources which slackened the struggle.
  8. Nationalists were denied access to state owned radio and other media outlets. Those media were instead used as a means of propaganda against the nationalists.
  9. Banning of trade unions also frustrated the activities of nationalists. Where they were allowed to exist, they were monitored by the police.
  10. The nationalists faced the challenge of movement restrictions through the pass laws that were introduced.
  11. African Journalists were harasses and their newspapers proscribed by the government.
Join our whatsapp group for latest updates


Tap Here to Download for 50/-

Why download?

  • ✔ To read offline at any time.
  • ✔ To Print at your convenience
  • ✔ Share Easily with Friends / Students

Get on WhatsApp Download as PDF
Subscribe now

access all the content at an affordable rate
Buy any individual paper or notes as a pdf via MPESA
and get it sent to you via WhatsApp


What does our community say about us?

Join our community on:

  • easyelimu app
  • Telegram
  • facebook page
  • twitter page
  • Pinterest