Nelson Mandela was a civil rights activist in South Africa during the Fifties and Sixties. He fought to end Apartheid as a member of the African National Congress, but he was imprisoned by the government for 27 years. After Apartheid had ended and Mandela was freed, he became the nations first black president. He then continued to work to reform the country until he left office in 1999.
Nelson Mandela during his 1994 State of the Nation Address
Nelson Mandela's prision cell on Robbin Island
Nelson Mandela looks out of the cell he was imprisioned in.
Nelson Mandela - Mini Biography
Henry David Thoreau said that "All men recognize the right of revolution." Nelson Mandela certainly recognized this right and acted on it. He rebelled against his government because he felt, as Thoreau felt, it was not only a man's right, but his duty. Mandela participated in strikes, he broke laws, and eventually was even a part of the armed struggle. Thoreau also believed that the purist source of truth comes from the Bible and the Constitution because "They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the Constitution." Mandela credited his religion for getting him through prison and for the peaceful transfer of power when Apartheid ended. It was also highly likely that he looked towards America as a shining beacon of hope for what his country might someday become. Just like Thoreau, Mandela realized the necessity of a government, and also just like Thoreau he asked for "not at once no government, but at once a better government."