MARCH 2014 ▬ Shortly after being released from Robbins Island prison following decades of confinement by the South Africa apartheid regime, Nelson Mandela visited the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles to extend gratitude to people in those communities for helping procure his release and to expose to the world the injustices of South Africa's white-minority-rule government.
"Nelson Mandela loved the Bay Area and its people," South African Consul General Cyril Ndaba said during a recent visit to Berkeley, Calif. "He also loved the people who fought alongside our crusaders in order to make the 27 of April our national Freedom Day. That's the reason why after having spent 27 years of incarceration at Robbins island, the first thing that the late Nelson Mandela did, he visited you here and he also visited Los Angeles to say thank you."
Ndaba appeared last month at a symposium, part of one in a series of educational programs offered by COSAS - Committee for South African Solidarity. Freedom Day is public holiday in South Africa celebrated every year on April 27 to commemorate the historic 1994 democratic and non-racial national election, the first ever in the country's history. Any citizen over 18, regardless of race, could vote for the first time, and the people voted the ANC (African National Congress) into power; Nelson Mandela became the first president in post-apartheid South Africa on May 10, 1994.
"And again, on behalf of the Nelson Mandela family, I am still extending that gratitude and thanks," Ndaba stated following the showing of "A Dry White Season," the 1989 about the South African school teacher who befriends a black man and helps him investigate his son's death. "We will forever be thankful for the role [everyone] in their own way made that wish of South African people to be liberated...come true. Thank you so much."
COSAS, based in Berkeley, is a grassroots organization spearheading support to South African schools and sponsoring public education programs about political and economic conditions there. It publishes "The South African Beacon" newsletter.