DID YOU KNOW: Nelson Mandela was a co-founder of “Umkhonto we Sizwe” (spear of the people) - the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC) which was active from 1961-1990.
Known colloquially as ‘MK’, they operated through guerrilla tactics, carrying put various bombings against the Apartheid government, and was classified as a terrorist organization by the South African authorities.
This in turn meant that Nelson Mandela and the rest of the MK members were declared terrorists, and until July of 2008 Mandela and other ANC party members were barred from entering the United States—except to visit the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan—without a special waiver from the US Secretary of State.
In his “I am prepared to die” speech, Mandela outlined the t motivation behind the creation of the MK unit:
“Firstly, we believed that as a result of Government policy, violence by the African people had become inevitable, and that unless responsible leadership was given to canalize and control the feelings of our people, there would be outbreaks of terrorism which would produce an intensity of bitterness and hostility between the various races of this country which is not produced even by war. Secondly, we felt that without violence there would be no way open to the African people to succeed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy. All lawful modes of expressing opposition to this principle had been closed by legislation, and we were placed in a position in which we had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the Government. We chose to defy the law. We first broke the law in a way which avoided any recourse to violence; when this form was legislated against, and then the Government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did we decide to answer violence with violence.”
The MK surrendered all operations in 1990 after the fall of the Apartheid regime.