Free at Last

Part 7 of Have You Heard from Johannesburg? tied all the other segments together, as it was the final part of the series. The anti-apartheid movement did everything it could. It had exhausted its efforts, and even Oliver Tambo started to become discouraged. Tambo admitted he expected to be back from exile in 5 years, not 20.

There were a few parts to the anti-apartheid movement that were not mentioned in the other segments. The “politics of refusal” was the workings of the blacks and their refusal to be manipulated and bought by the apartheid regime. They boycotted polls and blacks only bought from other blacks. This hurt the white businesses, and economic supremacy was finally taken away.

africaSouth Africa’s neighboring countries also played a huge part in the movement. Exiled members of the ANC were able to communicate via radio from countries such as Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, and Madagascar. Disguises allowed ANC leaders to pass through country lines, and the President of Zambia made Tambo Head of State.

However, this help did not come without a cost. The South African army launched air and land attacks in the frontline states. Citizens were killed and kidnapped. War broke out in Angola. 600 people were killed in Zambia due to bombs. I wondered why these African states would risk their independence and their future when they just gained it. I wondered why these poor states could help South Africa, but the country I come from, the most powerful in the world, refused.

“…so few poor countries which have come up to freedom then throw [themselves] into a liberation struggle” – Abdul Minty

The UDF, or United Democratic Front also helped lead to the end of apartheid. The UDF mobilized hundreds of community-based organizations in the united democratic frontstruggle for a democratic, united, and non-racial South Africa. International campaigns spanned across the globe for the end of apartheid. These grassroots movements protested, sent aid to the ANC, boycotted South African goods, and much more. These individuals risked their lives for a country they probably had never been to, and for people they never knew.

The ANC decided it needed to pick a face and a name for its organization. This face and name was Nelson Mandela. He soon became a household name, where people chanted “Free Mandela.” On November 5, 1987, Govan Mbeki was released from prison after 23 years. On October 15, 1989, Walter Sisulu was released from prison. On February 2, 1990, the ANC ban was lifted. And on Sunday, February 11, 1990, Nelson was released from prison after 27 years.

The part that hit me the most was when Oliver Tambo had a stroke. his efforts had finally taken their toll on him. Even though he could barely walk or talk, his will and determination never dwindled. Many thought he would never make it back to South Africa in his state, but he did. He walked off the plane himself to take a look at what he had worked so hard to achieve. Unfortunately, Tambo did not make it to vote in South Africa’s first free election, and to see his good friend, Nelson Mandela, become President of South Africa.oliver and nelson


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