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Nelson Mandela released

The Story


For 27 years, six months and six days Nelson Mandela was a prisoner and a symbol of apartheid's oppression. Today, he is a free man and the world is celebrating. From Soweto's giant party, to exiles living in Regina, to the prime minister's office on Parliament Hill, CBC reporters capture the global festivities and evaluate what Brian Mulroney describes as "one of the most extraordinary things I've ever seen in my life.... It's the beginning of the end."

Medium: Television
Program: Sunday Report
Broadcast Date: Feb. 11, 1990
Guest(s): George Bush, Joe Clark, Hennie de Klerk, Art Eggleton, Nelson Mandela, Brian Mulroney
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Gillian Findlay, Barbara Frum, Anna Maria Tremonti, Tony Weaver, Jean-François Lépine
Duration: 22:30

Did You know?


• Nelson Mandela's birth-name was Rolihlahla, which means "troublemaker." He joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944. He was the ANC's deputy national president when the party was banned in 1960. Mandela argued for the formation a military wing of the party and the use of violence if necessary.

• Mandela was put on trial for treason in 1956 and was acquitted in 1961. He was arrested again in 1962 and sentenced to five years in prison with hard labour. The following year he was put on trial with other ANC leaders for plotting to overthrow the government by violence. On June 12, 1964, he was sentenced to life in prison.

• Mandela spent 27 years in jail, much of it at the notorious Robben Island Prison. On several occasions he was offered release if he renounced violence, but he rejected the offers.
• In prison, Nelson Mandela became a leader and philosopher and a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement. In 1990 he was released by South African president F.W. de Klerk, who also lifted bans on political organizations and pledged to work with Mandela to end apartheid.

• In 1993 de Klerk and Mandela jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1991, at the first ANC national conference allowed inside South Africa since the organization was banned, Mandela was elected president of the ANC.
• In 1994 Mandela was elected president of South Africa. He stepped down in 1999.

Many other South Africans led the struggle against apartheid. They include:

Stephen Biko, an activist who helped found the Black Consciousness Movement and the South African Students Organization. Biko was detained by police four times, and died in police custody in 1977, allegedly beaten to death by the police. He became the subject of a song by Peter Gabriel and a movie by Richard Attenborough;

Mntwana Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a Zulu chief during apartheid who headed the Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party, an often-militant group that vied with the ANC;
Albert Lutuli, the first South African to win the Nobel Peace Prize (1960). Lutuli, an ANC president-general who led the non-violent campaign for civil rights in South Africa, was banned from travel and publication for most of the 25 years leading up to his death in 1967;

Oliver Tambo, who helped found the ANC youth league in 1944 and lobbied for a new militancy in the ANC. Tambo set up a legal partnership with Nelson Mandela to defend victims of apartheid laws. He became ANC secretary general, then president. After Sharpeville, Tambo travelled Africa and overseas to set up ANC missions and unite world opposition to apartheid;

Walter Sisulu, mentor for Nelson Mandela, who was the first person employed by the ANC and became its secretary-general. He was jailed from 1963 to 1989. Sisulu died May 5, 2003, at age 90.

Bishop Desmond Tutu, general secretary of the South African Council of Churches. Tutu was a champion of non-violent protest and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for helping to unify the many national and international groups fighting against apartheid. He visited Canada in 1986 to lobby for strong economic sanctions against South Africa.


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