Mandela - the myth made man and face of a struggle

Independent Decade

Nelson Mandela, the myth finally made man, walked out of prison yesterday with a smile on his face, but iron in his soul. He immediately delivered a solemn warning to President F W de Klerk that while he wants peaceful negotiations with the government, he will not cede an inch in the struggle he has been waging for half a century, in the name of the African National Congress, against white-minority rule.

Any notion that Mr Mandela would prove a man with whom the government would find it comfortable to negotiate the political terms of the "new South Africa" Mr de Klerk says he seeks were dispelled with his first public pronouncements in 25 years, made to a crowd of 50,000 under the majestic shadow of Table Mountain. He endorsed the ANC's recent calls to continue the "armed struggle", to persist with international sanctions against South Africa and to intensify political protest at home, with the unique authority his words carry.

Mr Mandela's followers had endured a wait of several hours with patience for the most part, but on the fringes looters, some of them drunk, broke shop windows and threw bottles and stones at the police, who responded with birdshot, tear gas and rubber bullets. Police said one looter had died; ambulance staff said the total was four. More than 100 people were injured.

The scene at the city hall was revolutionary. The green, yellow and black ANC flag fluttered from the flagpole and a huge banner saying "Nelson Mandela - the nation welcomes you home" was draped over the upper balcony.

The lower balcony was covered in ANC and South African Communist Party flags. As the dusk gathered, pigeons returning to their niches in the Victorian baroque facade found them filled with people perched on ledges and window sills. Opposite King Edward VII posed, wrapped in an ANC flag, while another pigeon fluttered behind his right ear.

The crowd heaved and swayed terrifyingly, panicked occasionally by the shooting which crackled around its fringes and the fear of tear gas from police and army helicopters which swung back and forth overhead. They shouted down church leaders who kept promising them that Mr Mandela would appear at any moment.

At last, his wife, Winnie, at his side, Nelson Mandela appeared on the balcony. The crowd surged forward and their frustration evaporated into joy as they chanted and punched fists into the air.

Mr Mandela, 71, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 for his role as commander-in-chief of the military wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto we Sizwe. He declared yesterday that he had not budged in his commitment to "armed struggle", and would relent only once the government had created the conditions for all South Africans to express themselves with full political freedom.

Specifically, the government had to remove the state of emergency entirely and release all, "not only some", political prisoners - two steps which Mr de Klerk is not yet ready to take but which, as Mr Mandela noted, the ANC has demanded as preconditions to negotiate the terms of a political settlement.

Mr Mandela, who succeeded in being allowed to walk out of Victor Verster prison in Paarl, conceded nevertheless that Mr de Klerk, whom he has met at least twice, was a man of integrity who had moved farther towards normalising political conditions in South Africa than any previous Nationalist leader in 42 years.

Emphasising his loyalty to the ANC and its objectives and strategies, he reiterated, stern in his reading spectacles, the organisation's call for the struggle to continue until "the basic demands" of the people had been met.

His first words to the assembled multitude set the note which he now hopes will ring through all South Africa. "I greet you," he said in a clear voice, "in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    BI Developer - £35,000 -£40,000 - Sheffield

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

    Geography Teacher

    £21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an enthusias...

    Maths Teacher

    £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an enthusiastic Maths Tea...

    English Teacher

    £21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a dynamic En...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform