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Cry freedom

The News - 12 February 1990

Adelaide; News Limited

Newspaper, 410 x 300 mm

Location : State Library of South Australia - view catalogue entry

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On 11 February 1990 former African National Congress (ANC) President Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison after 27 years of imprisonment. Mandela had been convicted of sabotage and treason in 1964 and had served most of his time in the notorious Robben Island Prison off the Cape of Good Hope. On leaving, Mandela spoke to the crowd of 2000 gathered to cheer him saying “I greet you in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all.” In Cape Town Mandela addressed a large crowd from the balcony of the Town Hall. During Mandela’s incarceration, he was offered release if he lessened his demands and stopped condoning the use of violence in the struggle. Mandela, however, remained steadfast to his resolve for an end to apartheid and advocacy of majority black rule of a majority black population.

Mandela’s release signalled the beginning of South Africa’s journey to the end of apartheid. On 17 June 1991, the South African government repealed the last apartheid laws. In March 1992 a referendum of white voters gave President FW de Klerk the authority to end white minority rule in South Africa and the following year the government and the ANC agreed on a framework for majority black rule.

In December 1993 Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize with de Klerk. On 2 May 1994 he became President of South Africa in the first elections voted by the entire South African population (he served until 1999). Mandela ended his inauguration speech with the words “Let freedom reign. God bless Africa.”

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