Mandela: An Audio History premiered on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered in the week of April 26-30, and was broadcast in South Africa on SABC May 9 and 16, 2004.
In the 1940s, Nelson Mandela was one of thousands of blacks who flocked to Johannesburg in search of work. A new political party came into power with a new idea: the separation of whites and blacks. Apartheid was born, and along with it a half-century of struggle to achieve democracy in South Africa.
In 1960, with the African National Congress banned, the movement went underground. Faced with increased government crackdown, Mandela launched Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), a military wing of the ANC, and the armed struggle began. Two years later, he was arrested and charged with high treason. Mandela and eight others are sentenced to life in prison.
“We used to sing a song , “One stick, two…sticks of dynamite. We’ll take the country the Castro way.” Castro’s campaign was very short. Within a space of two years they had overrun Cuba. So here we were singing this song. As if to say in six month’s time we would be free. In six month’s time. While Mandela and other political leaders languished in prison, the government cracked down. It seemed that resistance to apartheid had been crushed. But on June 16, 1976, a student uprising in Soweto sparked a new generation of activism.
“I’ve never seen that many police. I mean, this is a group of kids with shining black shoes, white socks and little tunics singing freedom songs. We actually looked cute! It’s unbelievable to think that anyone could have stood firm on their feet and actually shot into that crowd.”
— Bongi Mkhabela, student organizer
We were languishing in prison.”
—Mac Maharaj, MK member and political prisoner
Funder: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting
A collaboration with Radio Diaries (http://www.radiodiaries.org)