Today we dance in celebration on this anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in South Africa in 1990. Incarcerated for almost three decades, subjected to inhuman conditions breaking rocks in a lime quarry, restricted to two visitors per year, and – a mere twenty-eight months before his release – still dismissed by Margaret Thatcher as no more than a terrorist leader, this World Hero’s epic re-entry into African affairs was an intercontinental event of epic inspiration to us the TV-wide audience who gazed for the first time upon this mythical figure as he emerged blinking and bedazzled by those first rays of freedom’s sun. At first he walked alone. That long walk… was he saying goodbye to those certain special prison-mates, those whom he had at his lowest moments resigned himself to spending the rest of his life with? But as we watched, we sang that demented calypso that Jerry Dammers had rammed down our throats so successfully. And when the following morning we passed by South Africa House in Trafalgar Square, only then with the sudden absence of the seemingly perpetual anti-apartheid protestors did we understand that the unimaginable had happened. Yes, and on this day they truly freed Nelson Mandela. Never in history has there been such an example of the so-called terrorist reaping the rewards of his lifelong struggle at this rarefied level of righteousness.
RIP Mandela! Viva Mandela!
[Written by Dorian and Julian Cope]
I remember watching on television too and not being able to believe it. Probably the most moving world news moment in my lifetime.
Excellent to see such a heartfelt and personal entry from both of you rather than just the ‘facts’. A truly historic moment.
By the way Dorian your Facebook Like button is not working. Might I suggest you try another plugin?
I was in Arusha, Tanzania on that day 20 years ago and the jubilation was incredible.
Moth and I went on an emotionally-charged tour of the Robben Island prison (the place where Mandela was banged up) a few years ago. A visit to this place should be compulsory for every human being.
I’ve looked all over YT for the film when he was first released that you refer to. That long walk. It’s nowhere. Anyone know where I can view this?
There is a danger in deifying any man. Mandela’s history of unrighteous violence and terrorism before his imprisonment is often overlooked. I don’t say that to condone his time in jail, but to put his life in a rounder perspective. And, of course, he and his spouse’s association/endorsement with the vile, black-on-black lynching method of “necklacing” is enough of an ignoble legacy to attenuate Mandela’s unquestioned legacy of sainthood.
The only way to put his life into a rounder perspective is to consider the circumstances which informed all his actions. How on earth any thinking person could consider Mandela a terrorist rather than a freedom fighter is beyond me.