Nelson Mandela’s Impact on Apartheid in South Africa

Nelson Mandela’s Impact on Apartheid in South Africa

Apartheid was a system of racial segregation imposed by the colonial government against non-whites in South Africa. During the 1948 elections, the National Party won and established a formal system of racial segregation. The main members of the National Party were Afrikaners, who were descendants of European settlers. Thus, the party members were predominantly white and they introduced restrictions against non-whites. Several individuals and groups played an important role in the abolishment of the apartheid system. One of them was Nelson Mandela, who played a momentous role in the fight against apartheid before his imprisonment, while serving his sentence, and after his release as the South African president. This research critically examines the impact of Mandela on the apartheid system in South Africa and the roles he played in its abolition.


The apartheid system was formally established in South Africa after the 1948 elections (Arslan and Turhan 35). The system involved strict segregation and classification of people based on their race. Although there were existing mechanisms to limit the nonwhites’ rights, discriminatory laws increased significantly in the 1950s. The apartheid system categorized the people into four racial groups including white, Indian, colored and black. There was strict segregation of these groups in social, residential, and economic aspects. Non-whites were denied their right to vote in national elections. Furthermore, the government established the homeland system in which separate states were assigned to non-white groups by forcefully removing them from their homes to their new ethnic states, also referred to as Bantustans (Abramson 56). Interethnic and interracial families were also forcefully split to send people to their assigned states. Non-whites were sent to areas with limited employment and educational opportunities, squalid surroundings, and poor housing. Mandela lived between 1918 and 2013. He was an activist since the 1950s and he criticized the apartheid system. His efforts to end apartheid led to his imprisonment on several occasions and later for 27 years before he was released in 1990.


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