by Mildred Europa Taylor, at 05:19 am, February 13, 2018, News

South Africa kickstarts Nelson Mandela’s centenary celebration

South Africa’s global icon, Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 this year. It would also be 28 years since his release from prison.

The first black president of South Africa spent 27 years in prison for attempting to overthrow the apartheid regime. After leaving prison, Mandela worked hard to ensure that human rights were respected and South Africans had a better future.

South Africa and the world at large have since launched a centenary celebration to mark 28 years since Mandela was released from the Victor Verster prison on February 11, 1990. The launch was held at the Nelson Mandela Museum last weekend as members of Madiba’s Welcome Reception Committee recounted events that lead to the struggle of Mandela’s release from prison.

Addressing the crowd at the ceremony, ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “As we gather here to commemorate that pivotal moment in the life of our nation, let us affirm our determination as a people to realise the vision to which Nelson Mandela dedicated his life.

“Let us work with even greater purpose to unite our people – African, coloured, Indian and white – to build a new nation in which all have equal rights and opportunities.

“Let us find a way to work together to build a nation in which all our people have jobs, food, good education, good health and security

“We need to build a country in which all may share in the wealth of our country.”

Other members of Madiba’s Welcome Reception Committee who were still alive and at the event included Saki Macozoma‚ Rose Sonto‚ Dali Mpofu‚ Bulelani Ngcuka‚ Hilda Ndude‚ Whitey Jacobs and Ben Sizani.
Sonto‚ who drove Mandela out of Victor Verster prison‚ said he recalled how he “went weak at the knees at the thought that he was tasked to carry cargo that was more precious than gold”.

 

Mandela was arrested in 1962 for conspiring to overthrow the state and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial. He served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison.

He was released in 1990 following the relaxation of apartheid laws, including the unbanning of liberation organisations like the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) and the African National Congress by the then South African President FW de Klerk.

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