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Nelson Mandela.

South African Nationalist leader Nelson Mandela (71) was released on February 11, from Victor Verstea prison, Paarl, 56 k.m. from Cape Town where he spent last 14 months of his imprisonment. He spent abut 27 years in prison. Mandela was arrested at the age of 44.

Mandela joined African National Congress in 1944 and helped to build its "Youth League". His commitment to democracy, non-racism and socialist oriented economy is unprecedented. After the release Mandela reaffirmed his commitment to ANC guerilla campaign whose inception in 1960 led to his imprisonment.

In 1960 police massacred 69 Africans at Sharpevilla and ANC was banned by white minority government of South Africa. Mandela set-up underground guerilla wing. After 17 months underground guerilla and political activities he was arrested on November 7, 1962.

Mandela was accused of organising protest against the constitution of South Africa and of printing and distributing literature inciting workers to strike. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment for inciting and two years for leaving the country without a passport. Nelson began his sentence in Pretoria prison then was taken to Robben Island and again brought to Pretoria Prison on June 12, 1963. He was kept in isolation for few months. He was not allowed to see visitors even his wife Winnie. A month later police raided ANC base in Rivonia and claimed to have unearthed documents, transmitter and other evidences. Nelson had to face new charges. The trial started on October 9, 1963. He was convicted in June 1964 and was awarded life imprisonment for allegedly plotting to overthrow the white minority rule.

For 20 years in notorious political prison of Robben Island, he was subjected to manual labour and had to break-up the boulders with hammer and to quarry limestone. In the late 70's he was offered conditional release which he refused. In 1985 the release offer was made provided he would renounce violence publically. His answer was a 'No' which was conveyed through his daughter Zindzi at a rally in Soweto. Mandela said "I cherish my own freedom dearly but I care even more for the freedom of the people. I cannot sell my birthright nor I am prepared to sell the birthright of the people to be free".

Mandela inspired millions of blacks to militant action. During 1984-86 uprising 5000 were killed. The sacrifices bore fruits forging the United Democratic Front which brought together some 700 public organisations with a membership of 2 million who carried out the fight against apartheid and for freedom, democracy and social justice.

When Mandela was imprisoned he courageously declared "This has become the vow of 26 million blacks, forcing South Africa"s 5 millionwhites to gradually resign themselves to the fact that they can no longer maintain apartheid system. They can no longer reserve 87 per cent South Africa's land for themselves. We plan to make government impossible. Those who are voteless cannot be expected to continue paying taxes to a government that is not responsible to them. People who live in poverty and starvation cannot be expected to pay exorbitant house rents to the government and local authorities".

Mandela is free now. He is the hero of South Africans. The European community welcomed the release of Mandela and termed the 3 years old state emergency as an obstacle to a dialogue between black majority and the white minority government.

However, the South African President Fredrik De Clerk's step to release Mandela is significant in bringing the black majority across the table for a workable solution of the problem. President Clerk also unbanned the ANC.
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Title Annotation:Global Outlook
Publication:Economic Review
Article Type:Biography
Date:Mar 1, 1990
Previous Article:Economic Survey 1988-89: Statistical Supplement.
Next Article:Election 1990 -- uncertainty persists.

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