On July 11, 1963, a seemingly harmless dry cleaning van drew up outside a rural farm near Johannesburg, South Africa. Within seconds, heavily armed police had burst out and arrested the entire high command of the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). Together with the already imprisoned Nelson Mandela, they were put on trial and charged with conspiring to overthrow the apartheid government by violent revolution. Their expected punishment was death. In this compelling book, their defense attorney, Joel Joffe, gives a blow-by-blow account of the most important trial in South Africa’s history, vividly portraying the characters of those involved and exposing the astonishing bigotry and rampant discrimination faced by the accused, as well as showing their incredible courage under fire.
Nelson Mandela was one of the most revered figures of our time. He committed himself to a compelling political cause, suffered a long prison sentence, and led his violent and divided country to a peaceful democratic transition. His legacy, however, is not uncontested: his decision to embark on an armed struggle in the 1960s, his solitary talks with apartheid officials in the 1980s, and the economic policies adopted during his presidency still spark intense debate, even after his death. The essays in this Companion, written by experts in history, anthropology, jurisprudence, cinema, literature, and visual studies, address these and other issues. They examine how Mandela became an icon during his lifetime and consider the meanings and uses of his internationally recognizable image. Their overarching concerns include Mandela's relation to 'tradition' and 'modernity', the impact of his most famous public performances, the oscillation between Africanist and non-racial positions in South Africa, and the politics of gender and national sentiment. The volume concludes with a meditation on Mandela's legacy in the twenty-first century and a detailed guide to further reading.
The question was: would he hang? In 1963, when South Africa's apartheid government charged Nelson Mandela with planning its overthrow, most observers feared that he would be sentenced to death. But the support he and his fellow activists in the African National Congress received during his trial not only saved his life, but also enabled him to save his country. In Saving Nelson Mandela, South African law expert Kenneth S. Broun recreates the trial, called the "Rivonia" Trial after the Johannesburg suburb where police seized Mandela. Based upon interviews with many of the case's primary figures and portions of the trial transcript, Broun situates readers inside the courtroom at the imposing Palace of Justice in Pretoria. Here, the trial unfolds through a dramatic narrative that captures the courage of the accused and their defense team, as well as the personal prejudices that colored the entire trial. The Rivonia trial had no jury and only a superficial aura of due process, combined with heavy security that symbolized the apartheid government's system of repression. Broun shows how outstanding advocacy, combined with widespread public support, in fact backfired on apartheid leaders, who sealed their own fate. Despite his 27-year incarceration, Mandela's ultimate release helped move his country from the racial tyranny of apartheid toward democracy. As documented in this inspirational book, the Rivonia trial was a critical milestone that helped chart the end of Apartheid and the future of a new South Africa.