Appreciating Freedom: An End to Apartheid in South Africa

Author: Stephanie Carlson
Grade Level: 2nd Grade


1. Students will discuss who Nelson Mandela is and what he did to help South Africans gain the right to vote and participate in other activities.

2. Students will participate in a voting activity and discuss it's importance.

Materials Needed:

1. Sisulu, E.B. (1996). The Day Gogo Went to Vote. Canada: Little, Brown & Company.


1. To focus the learner, read a hypothetical note from the principal to the class that states those students who are wearing certain colors, such as red and yellow, will not be able to participate with the rest of the class in certain activities. For example:
a. Those students wearing those colors can't play on the swings during recess.

b. Those students won't be allowed to raise their hands and contribute to the days lessons.

c. Those students will have to stand at lunch.

2. The students will likely say that these things are not fair. Tell them that is just the way it is. Explain that someone in charge of the students has made a rule and we must follow it. At this point, the teacher may want to point out the purpose of this lesson is to see how it feels to be someone, like Black South Africans, who for a long time couldn't vote or do many other things simply because of the color of their skin. This would be an appropriate time to tell the students about the many years of unfair treatment of the Black South African people. The teacher should help the students find South Africa on a map and go into a discussion about what activities and rights Black South Africans did not have: Focus on the right to vote.

3. Talk with the students about what it means to vote in our country and how important it is for citizens to participate in voting activities. Discuss the unfairness of government officials not allowing all people of the country to have a say in who their government officials will be and what the laws will be.

You may want to connect this lesson to U.S. history. Children can be helped to understand that other countries, such as our own, also denied certain people the right to vote in the past.

4. Read The Day Gogo Went to Vote and discuss Nelson Mandela and how his influence and voice helped win rights for Black South Africans. Ask the students why he, or anyone, would give up their freedom to help people. Ask the students why Nelson Mandela had a particular interest in helping these people (he too, was South African and was being treated unfairly). Point out that Mandela spent 27 years in prison because he fought for the rights of Black South Africans. Ask the students why he was put in prison for trying to help these people. Discuss April 26, 27, and 28th, 1994 and why these are historic days for South Africa. (These are the first days in South African history where the people were allowed to vote for their new government thus ending Apartheid, or racial segregation and discrimination). Ask the students why the people would think that these days were particularly important to the South Africans. Ask the students if they know how long ago 1994 was. Discuss with the students that 1994 was only ___ years ago, or when the students were about ___ years old. Point out that it wasn't very long ago.

5. Tell the children that it is important day in your classroom. You have been told that for the first time in history, the class has been given the opportunity to vote. Tell them that they are going to be able to vote as to whether or not they think the new rules outlined in the principal's pretend "note" were fair. If they vote no, their rights will be reinstated, thus illustrating the importance of each child voting. Give each student a ballot and allow them time to weigh the options and mark yes or no to the items presented on the ballots such as: Do you think the new rules in the principal's note are fair? Do you want these rules to continue to be enforced? Do you want the rules in your school and classroom to be fair for all people, no matter what colors they wear?

6. Discuss the voting activity and their feelings about it. Ask the students why equal treatment is important for all people. Ask the students why voting is important. Ask the students if they think that voting was a good way to make the situation fair.


1. Through discussion, the children will discuss who Nelson Mandela is and what he did to help South Africans gain their freedom.

2. Before the voting process, the students should discuss why we vote, it's importance, and their feelings towards their treatment. Their eagerness towards the option to vote should be noted, thus showing the teacher their understanding of it's importance. The students should also discuss the importance of equal treatment for all. If the students truly felt how unfair it was to be treated this way, their ballots should show that they demand equality.

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