Mandela in His Law Firm

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After graduation, Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo formed the only South African law firm which was owned and operated by blacks.  Mandela describes the type of work they did:

Africans were desperate for legal help in government buildings:  it was a crime to walk through a Whites Only door, a crime to ride a Whites Only bus, a crime to use a Whites Only drinking fountain, a crime to walk on a Whites Only beach, a crime to be on the streets after 11 p.m., a crime not to have a pass book and a crime to have the wrong signature in that book, a crime to be unemployed and a crime to be employed in the wrong place, a crime to live in certain places and a crime to have no place to live.  (Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, page 147.)

Mandela and Tambo provided free and low-cost legal services for these and other types of clients.  They heard many tales of woe:

Every week we interviewed old men from the countryside who told us that generation after generation of their family had worked a scraggly piece of land from which they were now being evicted. 

Every week we interviewed old women who brewed African beer as a way to supplement their tiny incomes, who now faced jail terms and fines they could not afford to pay. 

Every week we interviewed people who had lived in the same house for decades only to find that it was now declared a white area and they had to leave without any recompense at all. 

Every day we heard and saw the thousands of humiliations that ordinary Africans confronted every day of their lives.  (Mandela, Long Walk, page 147.)

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Jan 20, 2020

Media Credits

Photo of Mandela at his law firm, online courtesy ANC.


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"Mandela in His Law Firm" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jan 20, 2020.
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