The speaker of “I Am Prepared to Die” is South African activist for equal rights, Nelson Mandela.

At the time of the speech, Mandela was 47 years old and had been a known member of the African National Congress Party and one of the leaders of the party’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe.

The ANC is a social-democratic party whose main aim at the time of the speech was to obtain voting rights for black and mixed-race South Africans. The party initially used non-violent means to achieve its goals. However, after a 1959 massacre which led to the killing of 69 black South Africans, the party was banned and went underground: “The ANC refused to dissolve, but instead went underground. We believed it was our duty to preserve this organisation…”

It was at this time that Mandela and other leaders decided to form an armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe. The purpose of the organisation was to give black South Africans military training and to sabotage the economic infrastructure of the apartheid government using violence.

Nelson Mandela gave his speech from the position of the accused in the Rivonia Trial, after he and other leaders were arrested because of the activitie...

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