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Mandela’s release: 26 years on

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Lest we forget…

11 February 1990.

Heady days they were. What with De Klerk’s sudden capitulation and the unbanning of the anti-apartheid movement. They were moments to cherish; it was history being made, and were we part of that history – as journalists were we recording it, we were documenting apartheid as it fell like a wall in a heap of dust.

News of Mandela's release made headlines around the world [Photo: Shafiq Morton]
News of Mandela’s release made headlines around the world
[Photo: Shafiq Morton]
It’s still a whirl of emotion, from the gnawing anxiety of being shot, arrested and tear-gassed on the job to complete freedom of movement. That is something I will never forget. Not having to work with constant fear, not having to constantly watch your back and not having to worry about your work being censored.

The infamous Mandela salute [Photo: Shafiq Morton]
The infamous Mandela salute
[Photo: Shafiq Morton]

We were on the beat long before the wire-services and the networks descended en-masse upon South Africa, crudely expecting a civil war and racial mayhem in another African country. Yes, 1990 was about hope – and as ex-Robben Island prisoner and ANC stalwart, Ahmad Kathrada, once told me in an interview –­ it was about dignity.

All I can say 26 years later is: lest we forget.

Mandela and ANC leaders at Archbishop Desmond Tutu's home after his release [Photo: Shafiq Morton]
Mandela and ANC leaders at Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s home after his release
[Photo: Shafiq Morton]
Mandela meets Muslims in Bokaap on his first visit after his release [Photo: Shafiq Morton]
Mandela meets Muslims in Bokaap on his first visit after his release
[Photo: Shafiq Morton]
 

VOC (Shafiq Morton)

 

 

 


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