Mmegi Online :: South Africa celebrates
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Last Updated
Monday 19 November 2018, 06:00 am.
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South Africa celebrates

JOHANNESBURG - South African lawmakers sang Nelson Mandela’s praises yesterday as the anti-apartheid icon settled into parliament’s public gallery for a State of the Nation address scheduled in tribute to his 20 years of freedom.
By Staff Writer Mon 19 Nov 2018, 10:07 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: South Africa celebrates








Mandela was released in 1990 after spending 27 years in prison and went on to lead South Africa through the last stretch of a stunning, peaceful revolution from apartheid to democracy. His release was remembered as triumphant Thursday, but the moment was uncertain and anxious for South Africa, and it is a testimony to Mandela’s statesmanship that things went so well.

When Mandela was released we did not know what was going to happen,” said Nontuntuzelo Faku, who joined thousands of people who marked Thursday’s anniversary near Cape Town at what was known in 1990 as Victor Verster, the last prison where Mandela was held. Being at the prison 20 years later, Faku said, “makes me realize how far the country has come.”

In 2008, a three-meter (10-feet) high bronze statue was erected at the prison depicting Mandela’s first steps as a free man. Exactly 20 years ago, Mandela emerged from Victor Verster on foot, hand-in-hand with his then-wife Winnie, fist raised, smiling but resolute.

The release of Mandela, known affectionately by his clan name, Madiba, was

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the culmination of an eventful few days for South Africa. On February 2, then-President F.W. de Klerk announced the unbanning of the ANC and other organizations.

On Feb. 10, de Klerk announced at a press conference that Mandela would be released the next day.

Whites conditioned to see Mandela as a shadowy enemy - most did not know what he looked like because images of him had been banned - were shocked and confused. Blacks were uncertain that Mandela, who had begun negotiations with the white government from the isolation of prison, was right to trust de Klerk. Civil war seemed possible.

“I think the imprint of February is deeply etched into the psyche of our nation,” Mac Maharaj, a key ANC leader at the time, told The Associated Press.  “That image of Madiba, Winnie, walking out of Victor Verster, holding hands.

Madiba looking quite, quite somber, not celebratory, not punching the air and jumping about like a victorious boxer, but walking very sternly, and I think I see a sense of bewilderment in him.”

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