Nelson Mandela Monologue – Speech
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Only a small amount of people know that my real name is Rolihlahla. Mostly, I am recognised as Nelson Mandela. When I started school at age 7, my teacher changed my name to Nelson. We weren’t allowed to keep our African names because of the British bias of our education. I didn’t just lose a name, I lost a part of myself, of my identity. The whites either couldn’t or refused to pronounce our real names. To them, African culture did not exist. At school, the government spent approximately 6 times as much on a white student as they did on an African student. To the Nationalists, the African was biologically ignorant and lazy and no amount of education could fix that.
When I was a boy, I rarely ever came across a white man. To me, the whites were as grand as gods, and I was aware that they were to be treated with a mixture of fear and respect. My admiration for whites slightly faltered when my father got into an argument with a magistrate and lost his job. I was confused and I thought it was all some sort of mistake. How could these noble, respected gentlemen take away a man’s job? His only form of income…His life? I did not encounter discrimination when I was young, probably because of two main reasons:
1) My connection to the Royal Family
2) I lived in a remote area where whites were uncommon.
At that time, I had almost nothing to do with white people. However, when I was about ten years old, I started hearing stories the elders told about how white people had destroyed the fellowship of their tribes and told them that their real chief was the Great White Queen across the ocean. This Great White Queen brought nothing but misery and treachery to the black people. These stories made me feel angry and cheated, as though I had been robbed of my own birthright.
After school, I experienced first hand the harsh reality of prejudice and discrimination in our society. It was then that I discovered the unfairness and inequity of our society. In my opinion, this was because the whites were narrow-minded with false preconceptions that they were happy to keep. Africans were in desperate need for legal help in government buildings; it was a crime to walk through a Whites Only door, to ride a Whites Only bus, to use a Whites Only beach, to use a Whites Only drinking fountain and to be on the streets after 11p.m. It was a crime to be unemployed, yet also a crime to be employed in the wrong place, a crime to live in certain places, yet also a crime to have no place to live. The black people could not win.
After Uni, a good friend, Oliver Tambo and I set up our own law firm. As a lawyer, every week we interviewed people and families who’s lives were being devastated by the white people. Every week, we interviewed old women that had brewed African beer just survive on the tiny income, who now faced jail and unpayable fines. Every week we interviewed families who had lived in the same house for generations only to find that it was now declared as white area and they had to leave without any payment. Every single day we heard and saw the thousands of humiliations that ordinary Africans confronted every day of their lives. I realized how much how much our law firm meant to our fellow Africans.
Prejudice and Discrimination in the courtroom was common. White witnesses often refused to answer my questions. The magistrate wouldn’t even cite them for contempt of court, but would just ask the questions himself. The injustice of this was crushing and degrading. This was tremendously humiliating in front of a courtroom of white people, but I did my best to keep my dignity. I wasn’t going to let the whites know the emotional damage they were causing. It was depressing to know that the same men that I had idolised in my youth were publicly humiliating and disgracing me. They weren’t gods, just evil men. I was very good at what I did, but I had no hope of ever becoming a magistrate, a prosecutor or a judge. Although I was just as qualified as these people; their authority was founded on and protected by the colour of their skin. Once a magistrate even refused to believe that I was a lawyer and asked for my certificate. A certificate is something that lawyers hang on their walls in fancy frames, not carry with them to the courtroom. It was like asking a man for his university degree. I told the magistrate that I would bring my certificate to him as soon as possible, but he refused to hear it and I was evicted from the courtroom.
Because I made a stand and stood up for what I believed in, I was imprisoned for twenty-seven years. During this time, the thought of my wife; Winnie is what kept me alive. When I discovered the Police and other government Officials were harassing her, I nearly died. The stalking, abuse, violence and hate towards me, I could handle. Towards my wife, I could not. These indecent cowards not only harassed my wife, but also abused my daughter. My precious 14-year-old daughter. This is when my hate for discrimination became exceedingly personal and I looked upon these people with disgust. When I was released from prison, I was elected President of South Africa. Every single day, situations arose, where I had the power to put white men through what they put me through. I never did. Not once. I would just be using discrimination and prejudice all over again. Isn’t that what I had been fighting against my entire life?
I am now 87 years old, and still fighting Prejudice and Discrimination, against blacks and whites, and I will continue to do so until the day I die.