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Nelson Mandela

Birth of democratic South Africa

In 1657, a few people left the Dutch East India Company, which had some stations for its trading ships, and became settlers in South Africa. They were the first “Boers” (farmers). The descendants of the first Boers called themselves ”Afrikaners.” Today their language, ”Afrikaans” is the mother tongue to 5 million people. During the nineteenth century the British presence and influence grew. In 1898, the Anglo-Boer war broke out. The U.K. won the war against the Boers in 1902.


Apartheid, pronounced “a-part-hate”, means separateness, segregation. The basis of apartheid is the racial discrimination of citizens through different political, social, religious, cultural and economic treatment.

Here are some examples of apartheid in South Africa that became the official government policy in 1948 (until 1990):
- 80% of the population (native groups) had less than 15 per cent of the land.
- The population was strictly divided into race groups.
- Inter-racial marriages were forbidden.
- The towns were divided into racial sectors.
- The movements of the black people were restricted.
In 1994, the new government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with the purpose of investigating abuses committed during the apartheid regime.

Nelson Mandela

He was the most important black South African leader and fought for the civil rights of black people.
He spent 27 years in prison because of his political ideas. During this period he became the symbol of the struggle against apartheid all over the world.
In 1990 he was set free; in 1993 he won the Nobel Peace prize with F.W. de Clerk, the last white president in South Africa. In 1994 he was elected president and he retired from public life in 1999.

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