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History Lessons by Jonathan Gifford

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NELSON MANDELA

(b. 1918)

Nelson Mandela changed the mood of South Africa to an extent that seems unbelievable, even with hindsight. For decades, black and white South Africans had been embattled in an increasingly bitter conflict. Civil war seemed increasingly likely—at times, South Africa seemed already to be in a state of civil war. Nelson Mandela himself was regarded as a violent terrorist leader, in league with foreign powers, determined to overthrow the government of South Africa and to install a black communist regime that was expected to be implacably hostile to the white minority and their way of life. Even when a democratic solution seemed possible, it was believed by most South African whites that a black majority government would both ...

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