By Ayesha Bashir
Back in Time is ED’s newspaper type column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
For this incident, we go back in time to 1990.
Paarl, South Africa February 11th, 1990: Nelson Mandela, leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa was released today, after 27 years of confinement from the Victor Verster prison.
Nelson joined African National Congress in 1944 and in 1952 became its deputy national President.
He advocated nonviolent resistance to different kinds of racial segregation that existed as per the apartheid regime, however after the massacre of peaceful black demonstrators at Shaperville in 1960 he organized a paramilitary branch for warfare.
He was then put to trial in 1964 on charges of sabotage and in June along with other ANC leaders was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
In 1989 F.W. De Klerk came to power in South Africa and dismantled the apartheid system along with lifting the ban on ANC and announcing the release of Nelson Mandela.
LOVE FOR THEIR LEADER
As he appeared at the gate of the prison, he was overwhelmed by the huge crowd that had gathered for a glimpse of their beloved leader. Press had been waiting since 8am and there were about 2000 people or more, who were dancing and singing through the day.
Amidst heavy police patrolling, his car began tracking from the prison and cheers filled with the air as his car drew up and he stepped out, with the symbolic clenched fist along and took the hand of his wife Winnie towards the gate. This symbolised freedom.
The photographers were desperately trying to catch the leader’s attention and were crushing each other in the process. Later they took the road to Cape Town where he was to address a rally and noticed that the entire 50km distance was marked by his fans and well-wishers who wanted to see this legend.
On reaching the city there were 60,000 people at the Grand Parade in front of the City Hall waiting for him and his empowering words. Anti-apartheid clerics Reverend Frank Chikane and Reverand Alan Boesek, were present too, who were trying to discipline the crowd, but to no avail. Due to massive heat many people were fainting and hence a mobile medical clinic was provided to take care of those who were injured.
Donned in his grey suit and signature spectacles he gave his speech and concluded by recalling the one given by him at the Rivonia trial:
“I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and equal opportunity. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve, but if needs be, it is an ideal for which I’m prepared to die.
Image Credits: Google
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