Friday, July 8, 2011

Compare and Contrast: African Heroes

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African Heroes Emperor Haile Selassie I and Nelson Buti Mandela

Emperor Haile Selassie I and Nelson Mandela both have devoted their lives to the people pf Africa. They have both left a huge mark on African history. These two men both fought a struggle for the rights and freedom of their people. Even though Emperor Haile Selassie I was killed, his work along Nelson Mandela’s will never be forgotten. Haile Selassie, also known as “The Lion” also inspired Nelson Mandela.

Haile Selassie I and Nelson Mandela were both born and raised in Africa. Emperor Haile Selassie I was born Tafari Makonnen 18 in Ethiopia. In 111 he married Woizero Menen who was the daughter of Emperor Meneik II. (001) He was named heir to the throne in 117 but had to wait until the death of Empress Zauditu to assume full kingship. The Empress died in 10 and Tafari became the 111th emperor of Ethiopia. He then took on the name Haile Selassie, which means “Might of the Trinity.”

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Nelson Buti Mandela was born in a small village called Mvezo on July 18, 118. (1)His family had moved to another village after his birth because his father who was chief of the village had been de-throned by the white authorities (1). Buti was a bright child and his parents put him in school when he was 7 years old. It was at his school that his white teacher had given him an English name which was Nelson. He really didn’t like the name but he did like school, so he kept the name for that reason. After his father’s death he became the Paramount Chief’s Ward to be groomed to assume high office. Mandela’s dream was to always become a lawyer, and he dreamed of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people.

Haile Selassie I and Nelson Mandela both did a lot in their time of power. They both lived very meaningful lives and did a lot for their people. Haile Selassie I attempted internal reforms and took great pride in the suppression of slavery. In 11, after he assumed power, he established the first Ethiopian constitution. This was helped in aiding Ethiopia’s modernization through bureaucracy and solidarity. (16) A lot of Selassie’s loyalty was fostered by the building of schools, universities, and newspapers, as well as increased availability of electricity, telephone, and public health services (16). When the Italians invaded the Ethiopians in 15, Selassie led his defending troops in WWII. But in 16 he was forced to flee to British protection. In 16 and 18 he appealed to the League of Nations for action against Italy. In 140, he returned to Africa with British aid, and reentered Ethiopia in 141 and regained his throne.

During the Second World War, Nelson Mandela joined the political action group, African National Congress. Nelson Mandela along with 60 other members, set out to transform the ANC into a mass movement. In 144 they came together to form the African National Congress Youth League. He impressed his fellow peers with his disciplined work and consistent effort and was elected to the Secretaryship of the Youth League in 147. In 15, Mandela was elected National Volunteer-in-Chief of the ANC’s Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws (18). He traveled around the country organizing resistance to discriminatory legislation. Mandela was charged for his role in the campaign, he was given a suspended prison sentence and was prohibited from attending gatherings and was confined to Johannesburg for six months. While he was banned, he wrote the attorney’s admission exam and was admitted into the profession, and he opened a practice in Johannesburg.

During their time of struggle, both men were able to achieve many accomplishments. In 14, Selassie began to rebuild his country. Among his many accomplishments were a major land reform in 14 and 144, emancipation of slaves in 14, and a revised and broadened constitution in 155 that provided for universal suffrage (1). In 160, he increased government efforts toward economic development and social reform (1). He played a leading role in the formation of the Organization of African Unity. He also helped mediate disputes between Senegal and Guinea, Tanzania and Uganda, and northern and southern Sudan. He died in August175, he was killed in prison. Haile Selassie has left a big mark in the Rastafarian religion. They believe that he is the black people’s God. They feel that they were tricked by the white people in believing that Jesus was white. According to the Afrocentric Experience website, to them Selassie was more than a political leader. He was Jah, the all-knowing and all-loving God (The Essence of Rastafarianism).

Nelson Mandela was co-author of the ANCYL programme. During the early fifties, Mandela played an important part in leading resistance to the Western areas removals and to the introduction of Bantu Education. He also played a significant role in popularizing the Freedom Charter, adopted by the Congress of the People in 155. (1) In the late fifties, Mandela’s attention turned to the struggles against the exploitation of labor. In 16, Nelson Mandela was charged for leaving South Africa and was sentenced to five years in prison. Then in 164 he was charged again with sabotage and treason and was given a life sentence. Nelson Mandela spent 7 years in prison and was released February 11. 10. The day that he was released, thousands of people were there to greet him and thank him. When he was released he then set forth his goals that he set out to do nearly four decades earlier. After spending 7 years in prison, he became the President of South Africa. In 11, Nelson Mandela was elected President of the ANC. In 1 Nelson Mandela accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of all South Africans who suffered and sacrificed so much to bring peace to our land (1). Because of all he has done he is now referred to as “the living Gandhi.”

In conclusion, these two men live their lives of struggle. They struggled for the rights and freedom of their people. There lives were very similar to each other although different in their own struggles. They are two great heroes to the people of Africa and with me being of African descent, they are greatly looked upon and respected by me. They were a symbol of African independence, inspiration and unity. If it wasn’t for them, a lot of my people would still be living a life of pain.

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