Original Oil Paintings of Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela's move to Johannesburg and political awakening
Nelson Mandela fled to Johannesburg to escape an arranged marriage. Mandela recalls that arriving at Johannesburg seemed like the end of a long journey but it was in fact a start of a much longer and more trying journey.
The first job Nelson Mandela took was as a mine policeman at Crown Mines where he recalls being on duty next to a sign that read " Beware: Natives Crossing Here " and having to check the credentials of all who was entering and leaving. Mandela later moved in with the Reverend J. Mabutho of the Anglican Church in the Alexandra township whom Mandela remembers as a generous and God-fearing man.
Nelson Mandela was eventually taken on as a clerk at the recommendation of Walter Sizulu. Mandela also studied at nights for a BA degree through UNISA whilst working at day. Mandela recalls that his first year living in Alexandra in a rented shack thought him about poverty. He had to walk six miles to town in the mornings and six miles back again in the afternoon. He often had to go days with barely more than a mouthful of food and without a change of clothing. His employer Mr Sidelsky once gave him a suit which he wore for almost five years with the help of considerable patching and stitching. Nelson Mandela completed his BA degree by the end of 1942.
In August 1943 Nelson Mandela marched with 10 000 people in support of the Alexandra bus boycott in protest of the rise in fares. It was the first time Mandela switched from an observer to a participant. He was impressed by the effectiveness of the march and felt that marching with his people was an exhilarating and inspiring experience. Nelson Mandela was beginning to realise that his duty was to his people as a whole and found himself being drawn into the world of politics because he was not content with his old beliefs.
Nelson Mandela enrolled at the University of the Witwatersrand for a bachelor of law degree where he was the only black student in the law faculty. The university opened up a whole new world of debates, ideas and political beliefs. He discovered for the first time white people of his own age firmly aligned with the liberation struggle who despite their relative privilege was willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause of the opressed.
In 1947 Nelson Mandela was elected to the Executive Committee of the Transvaal ANC; this was a milestone in his commitment to the organization and he found himself bound heart and soul to the liberation struggle.