The Freedom Charter, written in 1955 by a ‘congress of the people’. This was a group of people of different races who were all working to end apartheid. The police arrested 150 people for attending this meeting.
We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know:
that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people;
that our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality;
that our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities;
that only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief;
And therefore, we, the people of South Africa, black and white together equals, countrymen and brothers adopt this Freedom Charter;
And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won.
From www.capetown.at, an information site for visitors to Cape Town written by Roddy Bray, a tour guide.
Many powerful images characterise South Africa’s first democratic election [in 1994]. The turnout was huge and very long queues developed at voting stations. But the atmosphere among voters was relaxed, even festive. The image of people from all race groups waiting patiently to vote caught the world’s imagination, it provided a new picture of South Africa – so different from the divided queues of apartheid.
A speech by Nelson Mandela on his release from prison, February 1990
Comrades and fellow South Africans, I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all. I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.
On this day of my release, I extend my sincere and warmest gratitude to the millions of my compatriots and those in every corner of the globe who have campaigned tirelessly for my release. I extend special greetings to the people of Cape Town, the city which has been my home for three decades. Your mass marches and other forms of struggle have served as a constant source of strength to all political prisoners.
I salute the African National Congress. It has fulfilled our every expectation In its role as leader of the great march to freedom.
I salute our president, Comrade Oliver Tambo, for leading the ANC even under the most difficult circumstances.
I salute the rank-and-file members of the ANC: You have sacrificed life and limb in the pursuit of the noble cause of our struggle.
I salute combatants of Umkhonto We Sizwe (the ANC’s military wing) who paid the ultimate price for the freedom of all South Africans.
….The sight of freedom looming on the horizon should encourage us to redouble our efforts. It Is only through disciplined mass action that our victory can be assured….
We call on our white compatriots to join us in the shaping of a new South Africa. The freedom movement is a political home for you, too.
We call on the international community to continue the campaign to isolate the apartheid regime. To lift sanctions now would run the risk of aborting the process toward the complete eradication of apartheid.
…I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunity. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But, if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
Mr Mandela’s first South African passport, issued eight days after his release from jail in 1990.These pages show his extensive travels after his release from prison. In the 6 months after his release he travelled to many countries in Europe, India, the USA and Asia. Available from www.nelsonmandela.org
Mandela speaking to a concert in his honour at Wembley in London, April 1990. Downloaded from www.anc.org.za
Thank you that you chose to care, because you could have decided otherwise. Thank you that you elected not to forget, because our fate could have been a passing concern. Even through the thickness of the prison walls…we heard your voices demanding our freedom. During all the days we spent buried in the apartheid dungeons, we never lost our confidence in the certainty of our release and our victory over the apartheid system. This was because we knew that not even the hard-hearted men of Pretoria could withstand the enormous strength represented by the concerted effort of the peoples of South Africa and the rest of the world.
… The apartheid crime against humanity remains in place. Therefore do not listen to anyone who says that you must give up the struggle against apartheid. Reject any suggestion that the campaign to isolate the apartheid system should be wound down… including the struggle represented by the international sanctions campaign.
I cannot complete my speech without referring to our Comrade President, Oliver Tambo. There is no man, there is no man in this country [South Africa] and anywhere else in the world who could have performed as magnificently as he has done over the last 30 years. He kept our organisation united and strong under the most difficult conditions and we say therefore that our prayers are that he should be able to recover sufficiently to take his position of leadership of this organisation.