In our essay we are going to write about the life of the famous freedom fighter, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and find out some similarities and differences between him and the Indian resistance fighter Mahatma Gandhi.Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on the 18th July 1918 in South Africa. His father gave him the name Rolihlahla, which means troublemaker. The name Nelson was given to him on his first day at the Methodist school. His father died when he was nine.
Afterwards his mother sent him to the regent of his tribe, the Thembu tribe. They raised him like their own child. Mandela then went on to spend the rest of his childhood with them, away from his mother in a different village. In his 20s he was a member of the African National Congress where he was leader of its Youth League. They made a defiance against the South African government with non-violent manners. In 1962 he was locked away for five years, due to political offenses.
After two years he was sentenced to a lifetime imprisonment. In 1990 the South African president Frederik Willem de Klerk released him. After his release he became the first black president of South Africa from 1994 until 1998. On the 5. December 2013, he died at the age of 95 years because of a lung infection. If you ask people what they know about Nelson Mandela, almost everyone will say, that he fought for the freedom of South Africa and the rights of black people, or that he spent 27 years in prison. If you think of freedom fighters, immediately the name Gandhi comes into your mind. We thought their stories to be very similar in many ways. So, we asked us this question: Was Nelson Mandela the South African Mahatma Gandhi? Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were comparable in many aspects. Both were freedom fighters and stood up for supressed people. But how similar were their philosophies and their actions?Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi studied law, Gandhi in London and Mandela in Johannesburg at the University of Witwatersrand. Gandhi even worked as a legal advisor in South Africa for some time. There he supported the Indian immigrants who were discriminated by the Apartheid system. Already then, he stuck to his non-violence ideology. Furthermore, both had the fortune to grow up in political and prestigious families. Mandela was sent to a Royal family of the Thembu people at the age of nine. They raised him, and he gained all the benefits of a royal child. Gandhi on the other hand had a father that worked for the government. In some aspects, Gandhi actually was a role model for Mandela. His non-violence marches became a model for the campaigns of the Youth League. The two of them, despised violence against the human body and gained a lot of respect through that. Furthermore, they both were very smart and could pre-estimate consequences of actions, and therefore plan their moves very carefully in advance. Another trait they had in common was patience. They always waited for the right moment to act, so they and others, didn’t have to suffer unnecessarily. Despite all that, Gandhi was imprisoned multiple times for his non-violence protests, in India and South Africa. On Robben Island, Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, due to his political actions against the Apartheid regime. It’s exceptional how, after all those years in prison, he didn’t hate white people. In his book he mentions I knew that people expected me to harbor anger toward whites. But I had none. In prison, my anger toward whites decreased, but my hatred for the system grew. This shows how forgiving Mandela was, but the same can be said for Gandhi. They both were committed to fighting against prejudice systems. Their actions and commitment inspired million others to follow them in their fight against the system. They both united masses of people to stand together against the enemy. Both Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were great leaders and role models for people. They both shaped the future of their respective country in a big way. Even if they had many similarities, there were some important differences. As we know, Mahatma Gandhi wanted everything to be non-violent. However, Nelson Mandela thought that the only solution to stop the Apartheid is with force. Though he didn’t want to use violence, he felt he had no other choice. He once said: I do not deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people by the whites. During his time in prison he got many offers for freedom. The South African President P W Botha offered it to him in 1985 but his daughter, Zinzi Mandela had to announce his rejection because in return the ANC would have had to demobilize. This was the last thing he would have wanted to do, therefore he rather stayed in prison. That shows how convinced he was to use armed struggle. In Prison, Mandela stayed very strong and never thought of something like a hunger strike, which Gandhi on the other hand supported, even if he was treated very badly. For me, hunger strikes were altogether too passive. We who were already suffering were threatening our health, even courting death. I have always favoured a more active, militant style of protest such as work strikes, go-slow strikes, or refusing to clean up; actions that punished the authorities, not ourselves. States Mandela in his book.Mandela was very respectful to the white people and said that the whites are fellow South Africans. His vision was that coloured and white people could live together peacefully. Gandhi was for an independent India, hence he wanted the British to leave the country. Another difference between Gandhi and Mandela is that Mandela was politically active. After his years in prison, he was elected to be the first black president of South Africa. Gandhi was only a little active in politics. He never participated in a presidential election and was mostly influencing politics with his protests.There is no doubt, both Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela have many similarities. The two of them hated violence against humans, they tried to do as least harm as possible. Both were great minds and a father figure to many people. They were patient, generous and very forgiving. But as we read more and more about the two, we came to the conclusion, that even though their aim was going in the same direction, their approaches to their problems were very different. Gandhi was only little involved in politics, while Mandela even went on to become President. Gandhi’s aim was an India independent of the British empire. At the same time Mandela’s dream was a South Africa with whites and coloured as fellow South Africans. Additionally, Mandela found many methods of Gandhi to be too passive. He preferred a more active and direct method, that would punish authorities. About non-violent protests he said: For me, nonviolence was not a moral principle but a strategy” For Gandhi on the other side, non-violence was the only option. A famous quote of him reads: There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for. Both Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are great personalities, from whom we can learn a lot. Without them the world now would be totally different. They taught us, that to achieve peace, you don’t have to fight a war, simply talking to the enemy and forgiving them is much wiser.