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Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela as Legendary Figures in the Non-Violence Community: Essay

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Both Gandhi and Mandela struggled to maintain specific goals, like Gandhi's goal to gain independence from Britain and Mandela's goal to end apartheid. Non-violence, the use of peaceful means, not force, to bring about political or social change was the center of these movements. The three most important and effective types of non-violence that Gandhi and Mandela used were their commitment to non-violence, their use of economic pressure and their clever use of the press and media.

Gandhi and Mandela's commitment to non-violence was one of the most important ways that they gained followers and kept their special message alive. Gandhi wrote a letter to Lord Irwin, English governor of India, before marching to the sea and breaking the English salt tax law, around March of 1930. In the letter, Gandhi says: “I cannot intentionally hurt anything that lives, much less human beings, even though they may do the greatest harm to me”. This quote shows how Gandhi and his followers are committed to not hurting anyone in their path, even though they might hurt them. In Gandhi’s letter, you can see that there are no uses of angry words and there are no signs of anger towards Lord Irwin. This shows how Gandhi keeps his calm even in a letter to someone that is doing him wrong. Mandela also really feels that the non-violence is the best tactic since “The state was more powerful than we and any attempts at violence by us would be devastatingly crushed”. If Mandela and his followers were to use violence against the English, then they would have gotten destroyed, but since they used non-violence, it showed how Mandela and his followers had self-control and did not need to fight to get their point across. Gandhi and Mandela were both masters at non-violence and knew that it was the best way to peacefully protest and enforce something at the same time.

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The second reason that Gandhi and Mandela were so effective at what they did was because of economic pressure. In March of 1919, Gandhi had ordered a Hartal, a day of fasting and prayer when work had ceased. Although the economic impact of this first non-violent campaign was limited to just one day, Gandhi served notice to the British that the people of India could be organized against them. Gandhi knew that if the majority of the Indian population did not work, it would not give the British any money. He used the Hartal as a way to put economic pressure on the British without directly saying that he was doing it. Nelson Mandela also used economic pressure to his advantage. In this case, he used sanctions as his leverage against the president of South Africa. As for Mandela, he once had a private meeting with the president of South Africa, Mr. de Klerk. He asked Mandela to stop the international sanctions, but he wouldn’t budge, because Mandela knew that the sanctions were the best leverage they had against de Klerk and that Mandela would mute the call for international sanctions until apartheid was completely dismantled and a transitional government was in place. Gandhi and Mandela both very cleverly used economic pressure to get what they wanted.

The final effective reason for non-violence that Gandhi and Mandela used was the press and media. Gandhi was said to have written ten million words in his lifetime, and not a single one of them was violent. Gandhi once said that his newspapers were a “Training ground in self-restraint and a means for studying human nature in all its shades and variations. Without the newspapers, a movement like Satyagraha wouldn’t have been possible”. Gandhi uses his newspapers to spread his message of nonviolence to everyone, and by not sounding violent in his papers, then he will not have people questioning his commitment to non-violence. Nelson Mandela used the press in a more secretive way then Gandhi did. Mandela would sneak around and speak to newspaper reporters. Mandela would relay the reporters his stories of what they were planning to do, so because he was in jail, he could still get gatherings of people to end apartheid. The clever use of the press and media and how both men did not show violence in what they did really shows how the press was beneficial to their movements and that it was a great thing to use as a non-violence technique.

Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were both legendary figures in the non-violence community because of their commitment to non-violence, applying economic pressure and the clever use of the press and media. All of these are very beneficial ways to get points across and we can clearly see that they did work for both Gandhi and Mandela.

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Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela as Legendary Figures in the Non-Violence Community: Essay. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from
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