The Presidential Years

Abacha, Sani (1943–1998)

Nigerian Army officer and politician, who served as the de facto president of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998. Abacha fought for Nigeria in the country's civil war against Biafra and rose through the army ranks. The Abacha regime came under worldwide condemnation after the execution of the Ogoni Nine including Ken Saro Wiwa. He was chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). He died from a heart attack.

Abdurahman, Abdullah​ (1872–1940)

Medical doctor, politician and anti-apartheid activist. Father of Cissie Gool. First black person to be elected to the Cape Town City Council and the Cape Provincial Council. President of the African Political Organisation (APO). Posthumously awarded the Order for Meritorious Service: Class 1 (Gold) by Mandela in 1999, for his work against racial oppression.

Abiola, Moshood (1937–1998)

Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was a Nigerian businessman, publisher and politician. Known for his out-spoken political stances, Abiola lobbied the United States and several European nations in 1992, demanding reparations for the enslavement of African people and recompense for the fortunes made in harvesting Africa's raw materials. He won the 1993 elections but was forced to go into hiding. He called for an uprising to force the military to recognize the 1993 vote and was arrested him on June 23. Moshood died in 1998, only days before his scheduled release from prison.

Abubakar, Abdulsalami (1942–)

Retired Nigerian Army General who was Military Head of State from 9 June 1998 until 29 May 1999 who succeeded Sani Abacha. Led Nigeria’s contingent in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and eventually rose to the position of Chief of Defence Staff. Abubakar was one of the few generals in the Nigerian army who rose to the top without holding political office. He has held only command and military positions, and has, in general, stayed out of the political limelight. It was during his leadership that Nigeria adopted its new constitution in May 1999. Abubakar transferred power to president-elect Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29, 1999. He is retired and still lives in Nigeria.

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP 1993– )

Established in December 1993 to cater for the needs of Christians from all over South Africa. It is a party that would not only represent bible believing Christians, but also those who have a high regard for moral values. The ACDP vision is based on Christian and family values, and aims to rebuild the foundation of the nation by protecting families from the destructive effects of gambling, prostitution, pornography and abortion.

African National Congress (ANC)

Established as the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) in 1912. Renamed African National Congress (ANC) in 1923. Following the Sharpeville Massacre in March 1960, the ANC was banned by the South African government and went underground until the ban was lifted in 1990. Its military wing, Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), was established in 1961, with Mandela as commander-in-chief. The ANC became South Africa’s governing party after the nation’s first democratic elections on 27 April 1994.

African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL)

Established in 1948. Actively involved in the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the anti-pass campaigns.

African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL)

Founded in 1944 by Nelson Mandela, Anton Lembede, Walter Sisulu, A. P. Mda and Oliver Tambo as a reaction to the ANC’s more conservative outlook. Its activities included civil disobedience and strikes in protest against the apartheid system. Many members left and formed the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) in 1959. Banned between 1960 and 1990.

African Union (AU 2002–)

Formed in 2002 the AU is a continental organisation consisting of 55 countries in Africa. The vision of the AU is a forward looking, dynamic and integrated Africa that will be fully realised through relentless struggle on several fronts and as a long-term endeavour. It has shifted its focus from supporting liberation movements in the African territories under colonialism and apartheid, as envisaged by its predecessor the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) since 1963, to an organisation spear-heading Africa’s development and integration.

Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuur Vereeniging (AKTV 1936 –)

Founded in August 1936 as a cultural organisation by Afrikaans-speaking members of the SA Railways (SAR) in protest against the dominance of English. It rapidly developed into a strong cultural organisation running a wide variety of projects to promote, support and encourage the use of Afrikaans and cultural participation by Afrikaans-speakers.

Afrikaner Volksfront (AVF–1993) Afrikaner People’s Front

Founded on 19 May 1993 as an organisation to unite white Afrikaans speakers, it included organisations such as the extreme right Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) and former generals of the apartheid-era army and police. It demanded independence for Afrikaans-speaking white South Africans and campaigned for an Afrikaner volkstaat or homeland. Shortly before the 1994 elections General Constand Viljoen broke from the AVF and registered the Freedom Front for participation in the election.

Ahtisaari, Martti (1937 –)

A skilled diplomat and mediator who worked as the United Nations (UN) commissioner for Namibia (1977 – 981) and led the UN team that supervised Namibia’s transition to independence (1989 – 90). In 1994 he became the president of Finland, and urged his nation’s entry into the European Union (EU), and for the first half of 1999, Finland assumed the EU’s rotating presidency.

Alexander, Dr Neville (1936–2012)

Academic, political and anti-apartheid activist. Founder of the National Liberation Front (NLF) against the apartheid government. Convicted of sabotage in 1962 and imprisoned on Robben Island for ten years. Awarded the Lingua Pax Prize for his contribution to the promotion of multilingualism in post-apartheid South Africa, 2008.

Asmal, Kader (1942–2011)

Anti-apartheid activist, academic and politician. An activist from an early age in Natal, he spent many years in exile in Ireland. He has a founder of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement, He was a member of the ANC’s Constitutional Committee from its establishment in 1986. Elected to the ANC NEC in July 1991, he served as a minister of water affairs and forestry from 1994 to 1999 and minister of education from 1999 to 2004.

Autshumao (d.1663)

Khoikhoi leader. Learnt English and Dutch and worked as an interpreter during the Dutch settlement of the Cape of Good Hope from 1652. He and two of his followers were banished by Jan van Riebeeck to Robben Island in 1658 after waging war with the Dutch settlers. He was one of the first people to be imprisoned on Robben Island and the only person to ever successfully escape. Also spelt Autshumayo.

Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA)

The military wing of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) replacing Poqo which was formed in the 1960s.

Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO)

Formed in 1978 after the crackdown on the Black Consciousness Movement, sought to fill the political vacuum left by the banning of the ANC and PAC.

Bam, Fikile Charles (1937–2011)

Lawyer and anti-apartheid activist. Imprisoned on Robben Island between 1965 and 1975 with Mandela with whom he shared a birthday. He served as a mediator for the Independent Electoral Committee in 1994, when the first democratic election took place in South Africa. At the time of his passing he had served as the Judge President of the Land Claims Court for 15 years - the longest serving judicial officer in this capacity.

Banda, Hastings Kamuzu (?1898 – 1997)

In 1963 he became prime minister of Nyasaland, now Malawi. Later Malawi experienced economic problems as a result of the iron fist rule, mismanagement and drought. In 1993 there was a threat to cut down humanitarian aid and this led to Malawi's voters showing their support for democratisation. In 1994 because of ill health Banda lost control of the country to Bakili Muluzi. He died in South Africa on November 25, 1997.


The areas of South Africa which as part of the apartheid system were imposed on South Africa’s African people as their ‘homelands’, to which their political rights were to be restricted and which the regime planned to declare ‘independent states’ and were demarcated along ethnic lines. The areas were: Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda, and Ciskei which were declared ‘independent’- but not recognised as such outside South Africa – and KwaZulu, Lebowa, KwaNdebele, Kangwane and QwaQwa. When South Africa achieved democracy in 1994 the bantustan administrations were integrated into the new state.

Barnard, Dr Lukas (Niël) (1949–)

Civil servant and academic. Professor of political studies at the University of the Orange Free State, 1978. Head of South Africa’s Intelligence Service, 1980–92. Held clandestine meetings with Mandela in prison in preparation for his subsequent release and rise to political power. This included facilitating meetings between Mandela and Presidents P.W. Botha and, later, F.W. de Klerk. Director-general Western Cape Provincial Administration, 1996 to 2001.

Belo, Felipe Ximenes Bishop (1948–)

Ordained a bishop in 1983. As spiritual leader of a territory that is overwhelmingly Catholic, he became one of the primary spokesmen of the people of East Timor. He denounced the brutal tactics and oppressive policies of the Indonesian government despite at least two attempts on his life, in 1989 and 1991. A strong believer in nonviolent resistance, Belo sought peaceful means to settle the troubles in his homeland. In 2004 he began serving as a missionary in Mozambique.

Bengu, Sibusiso Mandlenkosi Emmanuel (1934–)

Academic and politician. Served as secretary-general of Inkatha Freedom Party but due to differences with Mangosuthu Buthelezi left South Africa in 1978 and served as secretary for research and social action for the Lutheran World Foundation. Abroad he became friends with Oliver Tambo, then acting President of the African National Congress. Returned in 1991 to become the first black vice-chancellor of Fort Hare University. Became a minister of education in 1994 and 1999 served as South Africa's ambassador to Germany.

Biko, Stephen (Steve) Bantu (1946–1977)

Anti-apartheid activist and African nationalist. Leader of the Black Consciousness Movement. Founder of the South African Students Organisation (SASO), 1968, and its president in 1969. Co-founder of the Black People’s Convention in 1972. Banned and forbidden from participating in political activities in 1973. Arrested and murdered by the police, September 1977.

Bizos, George (1928–)

Greek-born human rights lawyer. Member and co-founder of the National Council of Lawyers for Human Rights. Committee member of the ANC’s Legal and Constitutional Committee. Legal adviser for Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA). Defence lawyer in the Rivonia Trial. Also acted for high-profile anti-apartheid activists, including the families of Steve Biko, Chris Hani and the Cradock Four in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Appointed by Mandela to South Africa’s Judicial Services Commission.

Black Consciousness Movement

Anti-apartheid movement targeting black youth and workers. Promoted pride in black identity. It emerged in the mid-1960s in the political vacuum created by the continued banning and imprisonment of members of the ANC and the PAC. Had its origins in the South African Students Organisation led by Steve Biko, who founded the movement.

Boesak, Allan Aubrey (1945–)

Anti-apartheid activist, priest, orator. In 1982 Boesak persuaded members of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches to declare apartheid a heresy and to suspend membership of the white South African churches; he served as president of the alliance from 1982 to 1991. In 1983 he helped form the United Democratic Front (UDF) and was arrested a number of times for his opposition to apartheid. In the 1990s he was convicted of theft and fraud, and served one year of a three-year sentence before receiving a presidential pardon by President Thabo Mbeki.


A township near Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng, South Africa established in 1955 to house black residents. On the morning of 17th June 1992 the residents were attacked by about 300 impis (warriors) from the nearby Kwa-Madala hostel, heavily armed with an assortment of dangerous weapons killing people indiscriminately most of them wearing balaclavas and red headscarves. The massacre led to the suspension of the CODESA negotiations but eventually the negotiations were concluded. The TRC interim report found that the police and Kwa-Madala residents had planned and carried out the killings in Boipatong.

Boraine, Alex (1931–)

Politician and academic. Served in parliament as a member of the Progressive Party from 1974. In 1986 he resigned and co-founded the Institute for Democratic Alternatives in South Africa (IDASA) together with Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert. In 1995, he was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to be the deputy chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, serving under Archbishop Desmond Tutu. From 1998 through early 2001, he served as professor of law at New York University and as director of the New York University Law School's Justice in Transition program.

Botha, Pieter Willem (P. W.) (1916–2006)

Prime minister of South Africa, 1978–84. First executive state president, 1984 to1989. Leader of South Africa’s National Party. In 1985, Mandela rejected Botha’s offer to release him on the condition that he rejected violence. Botha refused to testify at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1998 about apartheid crimes.

Botha, Pik (1932–)

Long-serving foreign minister in apartheid administrations, oversaw many important transitions, including the end of the Angolan Civil War and Namibian independence. In February 1986 he told a German journalist that he would gladly serve under a black president in the future. Served as minister of mineral and energy affairs in South Africa's first post-apartheid government from 1994 to 1996 under President Nelson Mandela.

Buthelezi, Mangosuthu (1928–)

South African politician and Zulu prince. Member of the ANC until the relationship deteriorated in 1979. Founder and president of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in 1975. Chief minister of KwaZulu. Appointed South African minister of home affairs, 1994–2004, and acted as president several times during Mandela’s presidency.

Carolus, Cheryl (1959–)

Anti-apartheid activist. Instrumental in the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the Western Cape serving as general secretary after its launch. Deputy Secretary General of the ANC under Nelson Mandela. Helped negotiate the new South African constitution and in drafting of post-apartheid ANC policy. She was the South Africa's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1998 to 2001.

Chaskalson, Arthur (1931–2012)

Lawyer, civil activist and judge. He defended liberation movement members in several political trials including the Rivonia Trial. In 1978 he helped establish the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), a non-profit organisation which used law to pursue justice and human rights. He became the first president of South Africa’s new Constitutional Court in 1994 and was Chief Justice from 2001 until retirement in 2005.

Chiluba, Frederick Jacob Titus (1943–2011)

President of Zambia from 1991 to 2002. He defeated long time Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda in the 1991 elections.

Chissano, Joaquim Alberto (1939–)

President of Mozambique from 1986 to 2005. He succeeded Samora Machel, first president of Mozambique after his tragic death in an airplane crash in South Africa.

CODESA (Convention for a Democratic South Africa)

The platform in which nineteen political groups met from December 1991 to negotiate a new dispensation for South Africa. The negotiations took place at the World Trade Centre in Kempton Park, near Johannesburg. At CODESA 1, a Declaration of Intent was signed and five working groups were appointed to develop a new constitution for a democratic South Africa, make arrangements for an interim government and decide upon the future of homelands, among other issues. However, during CODESA 2, which commenced in May 1992, talks broke down over discussions around majority rule and power sharing. More than a month later, in June, Mandela suspended talks following allegations of police involvement in the massacre at Boipatong. Eventually, behind-the-scenes meetings between cabinet minister Roelf Meyer and ANC member Cyril Ramaphosa were followed by the resumption of the negotiations through the Multiparty Negotiating Forum, which met for the first time on 1 April 1993.

Coetzee, Hendrik (Kobie) (1931–2000)

National Party politician, lawyer, administrator and negotiator. Deputy minister for defence and national intelligence, 1978. Minister of justice, 1980. Held meetings with Mandela from 1985 about creating conditions for talks between the National Party and the ANC. Elected President of the Senate following South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.

Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities

A ‘State institution supporting constitutional democracy’ defined in Chapter Nine of the constitution. Its objectives are to: ‘promote and develop peace, friendship, humanity, tolerance and national unity amongst and within cultural, religious and linguistic communities on the basis of equity, non-discrimination and free association; foster mutual respect amongst cultural, religious and linguistic communities; promote the right of communities to develop their historically diminished heritage; promote respect for and further the protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities; and recommend the establishment or recognition of community councils.’

Congress Alliance

Established in the 1950s by ANC, South African Indian Congress (SAIC), Congress of Democrats (COD) and the South African Coloured People’s Organisation. When the South Africa Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) was established in 1955, it became the fifth member. It was instrumental in organising the Congress of the People and mobilising clauses for inclusion in the Freedom Charter. After the ANC and SACP were unbanned it was succeeded by the Tripartite Alliance of ANC, SACP and COSATU, joined later by the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO).

Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)

National trade union federation formed in 1985 in alignment with the ANC and a founding member of the Tripartite Alliance of ANC, SACP and COSATU.

Congress of the People

The Congress of the People was the culmination of a year-long campaign where members of the Congress Alliance visited homes across the length and breadth of South Africa recording people’s demands for a free South Africa, which were included in the Freedom Charter. Held 25–26 June 1955 in Kliptown, Johannesburg, it was attended by 3,000 delegates. The Freedom Charter was adopted on the second day of the Congress.

Congress of Traditional Leaders in South Africa (CONTRALESA)

Formed in 1987 in KwaNdebele, one of South Africa’s homelands or ‘Bantustans’. With the support of the then banned ANC and the United Democratic Front (UDF) it grew into an anti-apartheid pressure group in the homelands of South Africa. CONTRALESA remains a force for greater rights for traditional leaders.

Conservative Party (1982–2004)

A right-wing political party formed in 1982 as a breakaway from the ruling National Party. Its objective was to resist changes that threatened white-minority rule. Its support declined rapidly after South Africa achieved democracy and in 2004 it merged with the Freedom Font.

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa

Negotiated in the Constitutional Assembly from May 1994 to October 1996 during the Government of National Unity (GNU). During the CODESA talks – started in 1991 – the National Party and ANC had agreed to create an interim constitution, which would be the basis for a final constitution. The final constitution was to be drawn up by members of the two houses of Parliament sitting as a Constitutional Assembly. On 8 May 1996 the final constitution was adopted by the National Assembly and one day later, second deputy president, F. W. de Klerk, announced the withdrawal of his National Party from the GNU, with effect from 30 June. After amendments required by the Constitutional Court, the final text was adopted by the Constitutional Assembly in October 1996. The Constitutional Court is the final arbiter of whether laws and regulations comply with the Constitution.

Constitutional Court (1994–)

South Africa’s highest court. Consisting of eleven judges appointed by the President from a list drawn up by the Judicial Service Commission. It is tasked with ensuring that any legislation is consistent with the country’s constitution and more broadly with protecting the constitutional and human rights of all.

Cooper, Sathasivan (Saths) (1950–)

Psychologist and anti-apartheid activist. Proponent of Black Consciousness. Secretary of the Black People’s Convention, 1972. Banned and restricted to the Durban magisterial district for five years in 1973. Convicted for assaulting a policeman during a strike in 1973. Sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment in 1974 on Robben Island for helping to organise rallies that celebrated the victory of the Mozambican Liberation Movement. He was released on 20 December 1982. Elected vice-president of the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO) in 1983.

Corbett, Michael (1923–2007)

Chief justice, 1989 to 96. First met Mandela while visiting Robben Island. He later administered the oath of office when Parliament elected Mandela as president of South Africa on 9 May 1994, and the next day at his inauguration.

Dadoo, Dr Yusuf (1909–1983)

Medical doctor, anti-apartheid activist and orator. President of South African Indian Congress (SAIC). Deputy to Oliver Tambo on the Revolutionary Council of MK. Chairman of the South African Communist Party (SACP), 1972–83. Leading member of the ANC. First jailed in 1940 for anti-war activities, and then for six months during the 1946 Passive Resistance Campaign. Was among the twenty accused in the 1952 Defiance Campaign Trial. He went underground during the 1960 State of Emergency, and into exile to escape arrest. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1955 at the Congress of the People.

Daniels, Edward (Eddie) (1928–2017)

Political activist. Member of the Liberal Party of South Africa. Member of the African Resistance Movement which sabotaged non-human targets as a statement against the government. Served a fifteen-year sentence in Robben Island Prison where he was held in B section with Mandela. He was banned immediately after his release in 1979. Received the Order of Luthuli in Silver from the South African government in 2005. Mandela calls him ‘Danie’

Davies, Don

Pastor and anti-apartheid activist. He was imprisoned on Robben Island for his activities as a member of the Non-European Unity Movement (NEUM).

De Klerk, Frederik Willem (F. W.) (1936–)

Lawyer. President of South Africa, 1989–94. Leader of the National Party, 1989–97. In February 1990 he unbanned the ANC and other organisations and released Mandela from prison. Deputy president with Thabo Mbeki under Mandela from 1994 to 1996. Leader of New National Party, 1997. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with Nelson Mandela, for his role in the negotiated end to apartheid.

De Villiers, David Jacobus (Dawie) (1940–)

A leading National Party politician, he was Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in the Government of National Unity until the National Party left the GNU.

Defiance Campaign Against Unjust Laws

Initiated by the ANC in December 1951, and launched with the SAIC on 26 June 1952, against six apartheid laws. The Campaign involved individuals breaking racist laws such as entering premises reserved for ‘whites only’, breaking curfews and courting arrest. Mandela was appointed national volunteer-in-chief and Maulvi Cachalia as his deputy. Over 8,500 volunteers were imprisoned for their participation in the Defiance Campaign.

Democratic Alliance (2000–)

A political party formed in 2000 through the merger of the Democratic Party, the New National Party and the Federal Alliance, becoming the official opposition party in parliament. The New National Party withdrew from the alliance the following year.

​Democratic Party

A small opposition party in the white apartheid parliament. It originated in 1989 under the leadership of Zac de Beer who was succeeded by Tony Leon in 1994. In 2000 made a short-lived alliance with the New National Party, after which it kept the name Democratic Alliance.

​Dlamini-Zuma, Nkosazana (1949–)

Medical doctor, anti-apartheid activist, politician. Completed a medical degree at the University of Bristol, 1978, then worked for the ANC’s Regional Health Committee and later Health and Refugee Trust, a British non-government organisation. Returned to South Africa after the ANC was legalised and took part in the negotiations at CODESA. Appointed health minister, 1994. Minister of foreign affairs (1999–2009) under President Mbeki and under President Motlanthe. Served as minister of home affairs under, President Jacob Zuma, from 10 May 2009 to 2 October 2012. President of the African Union from late 2012 until early 2017.

Dos Santos, José Eduardo (1942-)

President of Angola from 1979 to 2017 and leader of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) which fought against the Portuguese army in the struggle for liberation.

​Duarte, Jessie Yasmin (1953–)

Anti-apartheid activist and politician. Special assistant to Mandela after his release from prison and before he was elected president of South Africa. Member of the provincial cabinet of Gauteng. Appointed deputy secretary general of the ANC, 2012 and 2017. South Africa’s ambassador to Mozambique.

​Dube, John Langalibalele (1871–1946)

Educator, publisher, editor, writer and political activist. First president general of the SANNC (renamed as the ANC in 1923) established in 1912. Established the Zulu Christian Industrial School at Ohlange. Established the first Zulu/English newspaper Ilanga lase Natal (Sun of Natal) in 1904. Opponent of the 1913 Land Act. Member of the executive of the AAC, 1935. Mandela voted at the Ohlange school in 1994 for the first time in his life, and then visited Dube’s grave to report that South Africa was now free.

Dutton, Frank

Police officer both before and after 1994. He worked mainly in investigating political violence committed by or fomented by hidden agents. His work led to the exposure of South African Police hit squads and ‘Third Force’ involvement of the South African Defence Force in destabilising large areas of South Africa. In 1995 he was appointed head of the Investigations Task Unit whose work led among other things to the arrest of General Malan in connection with the KwaMakutha massacre.

​Erwin, Alexander (Alec) (1948–)

Politician, trade unionist and academic. Participated, on the side of the ANC, in the negotiations to bring an end to white minority rule and was a member of the Development and Reconstruction Committee. Elected to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC in 1990. Deputy minister of finance in Mandela’s first cabinet, then minister of trade and industry. Minister of public enterprises under President Mbeki from 29 April 2004 to 25 September 2008.

Evans, Leo (Rusty)

A long-serving career diplomat. He was director-general in the Department of Foreign Affairs both in the apartheid era and during Nelson Mandela’s presidency, when Alfred Nzo was minister of foreign affairs.

First, Ruth (1925–1982)

Academic, journalist and anti-apartheid and women’s rights activist. Married Joe Slovo, 1949. Met Mandela while attending the University of the Witwatersrand. Arrested, charged and then acquitted in the Treason Trial. Fled to Swaziland with her children during the 1960 State of Emergency. Detained in solitary confinement for ninety days in 1963 and fled to the UK on her release. Lived in exile in Mozambique from 1977 and was killed by a parcel bomb there on 17 August 1982.

​Fischer, Abram (Bram) (1908–1975)

Lawyer and political and anti-apartheid activist. Leader of the CPSA/SACP. Member of the Congress of Democrats (COD). Charged with incitement for his involvement in the African Mine Workers’ Strike for better wages in 1946. Successfully defended Mandela and other leading ANC members in the Treason Trial. Led the defence in the Rivonia Trial, 1963–64. Continually subjected to banning orders and in 1966 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for violating the Suppression of Communism Act and conspiring to commit sabotage. Awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1967.

Fismer, Chris (1956–)

Politician and lawyer. He was elected to parliament in 1987 as a National Party MP. He participated in the CODESA negotiations. He was elected to parliament again in the 1994 elections and served in the government of national unity (GNU) first as Deputy Minister of Justice and then Minister of General Affairs until the National Party withdrew from the GNU.

​Fivaz, George (1945–)

Civil servant. Appointed by President Nelson Mandela as the first national commissioner of the new South African Police Service. His primary responsibility was to unite eleven policing agencies into a single united South African Police Service and secondly to align the new police service to new legislation and the process of transformation in South Africa. When his term of office expired in January 2000, he was succeeded by National Commissioner Jackie Selebi.

​Fraser-Moleketi, Geraldine (1960–)

Politician and anti-apartheid activist. Went into exile in 1980 and joined the ANC and then Umkhonto weSizwe and became a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP). On return from exile in 1990 she served as an official in the relaunched SACP. She was deputy minister of welfare and population development from 1995 till 1996 when she became the minister. She was minister of public service and administration from 1999 to 2008.

​Freedom Charter 

A statement of the principles of the Congress Alliance, adopted at the Congress of the People in Kliptown, Soweto, on 26 June 1955. The Congress Alliance rallied thousands of volunteers across South Africa to record the demands of the people. The Freedom Charter espoused equal rights for all South Africans regardless of race, land reform, improved working and living conditions, the fair distribution of wealth, compulsory education and fairer laws. The Freedom Charter was a powerful tool used in the fight against apartheid.

Front Line States (FLS)

A loose coalition of Southern African countries from the 1960s, committed to ending apartheid and white minority rule in the region, and formally recognised by the Organisation for African Unity in 1975. It gave logistical, diplomatic and political support to the liberation movements of Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. After South Africa achieved democracy the FLS was succeeded by SADC’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

Gaddafi, Muammar (1942–2011)

Leader of Libya 1969 to 2011.

Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) (1869–1948)

Lawyer and anti-apartheid activist who came to South Africa in 1893. He developed a strategy of non-violence resistance. In 1914 he left South Africa for India. Led India to independence in 1947 and inspired civil rights movements around the world


Formerly known as Westbrook, Mandela changed the building’s name to Genadendal (‘Valley of Mercy’ in Afrikaans) after the missionary town Genadendal, situated two hours from Cape Town, which provided sanctuary to slaves when slavery was abolished in the Cape Colony in 1838.

​Gerwel, Gert Johannes (Jakes) (1946–2012)

Academic. Director-general in the office of President Mandela, 1994–99. Secretary of the cabinet in the Government of National Unity, 1994–99. Chancellor of Rhodes University. Distinguished Professor in the humanities, University of the Western Cape. Chairman of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

​Ginwala, Frene Noshir (1932–)

Anti-apartheid activist, journalist, politician, member of the ANC. Left South Africa in 1960 after helping to establish safe escape routes for anti-apartheid activists. She helped Oliver Tambo and Yusuf Dadoo to set up the first office in exile for the ANC. A journalist, she became the managing editor of two Tanzanian English-language newspapers, The Standard and Sunday News. She returned to South Africa in 1991. The first woman to serve as the speaker of Parliament in South Africa, she held this position from 1994 to 2004.

​Goldberg, Denis (1933–)

Anti-apartheid and political activist. Member of the SACP. Co-founder and leader of the Congress of Democrats (COD). Technical officer in MK. Arrested at Rivonia in 1963 and subsequently served a life sentence in Pretoria Local Prison. On his release in 1985 he went into exile in the UK and represented the ANC at the Anti-Apartheid Committee of the United Nations. Founded Community HEART in 1995 to help poor black South Africans. Returned to South Africa in 2002 and was appointed special adviser to minister of water affairs and forestry Ronnie Kasrils.

Gool, Zainunnisa (Cissie) (1897–1963)

Lawyer and anti-apartheid activist. Daughter of Abdullah Abdurahman. Founder and first president of the National Liberation League (NLL) and president of the Non-European United Front (NEUF) in the 1940s. Arrested and charged for her involvement in the 1946 Passive Resistance Campaign, and banned in 1954. In 1962, she was the first black woman to graduate from law school in South Africa and to be called to the Cape Bar. Posthumously awarded the Order of Luthuli in Silver by the South African government for her outstanding contribution to the struggle for liberation and for the ideals of a just, non-racist and democratic South Africa.

​Government of National Unity (GNU) 

The government of South Africa between 27 April 1994 and 3 February 1997 under the leadership of the ANC and according to the terms of clause 88 (2) of the interim constitution of South Africa, which required that any party holding twenty or more seats in the National Assembly could claim one or more cabinet portfolios and enter the government. The National Party and the IFP obtained cabinet positions for their leaders and MPs. F. W. de Klerk took his National Party out of the GNU on 3 June 1996, citing the exclusion of joint decision-making from the final constitution, and the National Party’s lack of influence on government policy.

Growth, Employment and Redistribution plan (GEAR)

A macro-economic policy introduced in 1996. It became a matter of intense contention within the ANC and its alliance with COSATU and the SACP.

Gumede, Josiah Tshangana (1870s–c1947)

Political activist and newspaper editor. Co-founded the ANC, 8 January 1912 (as the South African Native National Congress). In 1906 he travelled to England to discuss land claims of the Sotho people. President of the ANC, 1927–30. His son, Archie Gumede, was an ANC activist and served time in prison. Nelson Mandela corresponded with him from prison.

Gusmao, Xanana (1946–)

Politician. Gusmao was a leader The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin). He was captured by invading Indonesian forces and sentenced to life imprisonment. After United Nations sponsored negotiations a cease-fire was established and East Timor became independent. Gusmao became president in 2002.

Gwala, Themba Harry (1920–1995)

School teacher and political activist. Worked in the underground of the ANC until his arrest in 1964. Charged for sabotage and sentenced to eight years in prison which he served on Robben Island. Continued his activism on his release in 1972 and in 1977 he was sentenced to life imprisonment and returned to Robben Island. He was released early, in November 1988, as he was suffering from motor neuron disease, which had robbed him of the use of his arms. Elected to the National Executive Committee of the ANC, 1991. After the election in 1994 he served on the KwaZulu-Natal legislature.

Hanekom, Derek (1953–)

Anti-apartheid activist and politician. He was imprisoned for giving the ANC information about the apartheid defence force's support for the rebel Mozambican movement, Renamo. He went into exile and returned in 1990 to work for the ANC. He has held several ministerial posts, first as minister of agriculture and land affairs from 1994 to 1999 and later science & technology; and then tourism.

Hani, Thembisile (Chris) (1942–1993)

Anti-apartheid and political activist. Member of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) from the age of fifteen. He also joined the SACP. Member and eventually head of MK. He was active in the ANC underground in the Eastern and Western Capes, and eventually went into exile, where he rose through the ranks of MK. Returned to South Africa in 1990. General secretary of the SACP from 1991. Assassinated outside his home in Johannesburg in 1993 by Janusz Walus. Posthumously awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 2008.

Harare Declaration

In 1989, as conditions for negotiations ripened, the ANC formulated proposals s for a political settlement and for negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict. Adopted in turn by the Front-Line States; the Organisation of Africa Unity and finally the United Nations.

Harmel, Michael (1915–1974)

Journalist, intellectual, trade unionist and anti-apartheid activist. Leading member of the SACP and editor of The African Communist. Member of MK. Assisted in the establishment of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU). Co-founder of the COD. Continuously banned. The SACP asked him to go into exile in 1962, where he played a prominent role in the SACP, ANC and MK.

Hartzenberg, Ferdinand (Ferdi) (1936–)

Politician and maize farmer. Served as minister of education in the cabinet of P. W. Botha, 1979–82. One of the more conservative members of the National Party, he left the ruling party in 1982 to establish the Conservative Party (CP). Served under Andries Treurnicht as the deputy leader of the party, then led the party after Treurnicht’s death in 1993. The CP boycotted the 1994 elections in South Africa. Was the second and last leader of the CP when it merged with the Freedom Front and the Afrikaner Unity Party in 2004 to form the Freedom Front Plus. Retired from politics after the merger.

Haysom, Nicholas (Fink) (1952–)

Lawyer, anti-apartheid activist, public servant and diplomat. Before 1994 he was involved in initiatives to promote peace or expose state-sponsored violence. He was President Mandela’s chief legal adviser from 1994-1999 and from 1999-2002 chaired the Burundi peace-talks which Mandela was facilitating. He joined the United Nations in 2005 and served in various UN initiatives promoting or facilitating peace.

Healdtown (1855–)

Healdtown was a college in the Eastern Cape, a mission school of the Methodist church. Nelson Mandela enrolled at the college when he was 19 years old.

Heath, Willem (Judge)

Appointed by president Mandela in 1995 to investigate corruption and maladministration in the Eastern Cape, a brief given national scope in 1996 when the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) was set up. Heath headed the SIU until a Constitutional Court judgment required his replacement by a public official rather than a judge. In 2011 he was again appointed to head the SIU but resigned shortly afterwards when remarks he made led to widespread public calls for his resignation.

Heyns, Johan (1954–1994)

Priest and academic theologian. As moderator of the NGK (Nederlandse Gereformeerde Kerk, Dutch Reformed Church) Heyns sought to lead the church away from its segregated past. He was a Broederbond member, prominent in Afrikaner cultural groups and Dean of Pretoria University's theological faculty. Before the 1994 election he facilitated moves to bring the church and political parties to a consensus on moral and other issues. He was shot dead in his home, by unknown persons, in 1994.

Holomisa, Bantubonke (Bantu) Harrington (1955–)

Politician, military commander. Began his military career in the Transkei Defence Force in 1976 and rose to the rank of brigadier by 1985. Forced the prime minister of the so-called independent state of Transkei to resign in October 1987, and two months later overthrew his successor, Stella Sigcau. Commander of the Transkei Defence Force and head of its government from 1987 until 1994 when it was reintegrated into South Africa. Elected onto the National Executive Committee of the ANC in 1994 and served as deputy minister of environment and tourism under President Mandela. Expelled from the ANC on 30 September 1996 after accusing the party of corruption. In 1997 he co-founded the United Democratic Movement (UDM), a party which he has led in Parliament since 1999.

Huddleston, Trevor (1913–1998)

Priest and anti-apartheid activist. Came to South Africa in 1940 and joined the Community of the Resurrection mission in Sophiatown in 1943. With the community he resisted the enforcement of apartheid laws, and wrote a book ‘Naught for your comfort’ which did much to enlarge international awareness of the violent nature of apartheid rule. With fears for his safety he was recalled to Britain in 1955. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1955 at the Congress of the People. Returned briefly to South Africa in 1991.

Ingonyama Trust Act

Established by the apartheid parliament on the eve of the 1994 elections, the Trust manages land in the areas of the former KwaZulu bantustan, constituting almost a third of KwaZulu-Natal province. Its mandate is to hold land for ‘the benefit of the members of the tribes and communities’ living on the land. Aspects of its administration have proved controversial, including actions seen as diminishing the rights of people occupying land

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)

Originally the Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement, known as Inkatha, it was established by Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi in 1975. Established as a political party on 14 July 1990 with Buthelezi elected as the leader. It promoted a federalist national government which would provide regional autonomy. The IFP joined the Freedom Alliance, a coalition with white right-wing groups to oppose the ANC. It threatened to boycott the 1994 elections but joined at the eleventh hour. It obtained 10.5 per cent of the national vote and three cabinet positions in President Nelson Mandela’s government. The IFP threatened to leave the GNU but did not.

Jordan, Zweledinga Pallo (1942–)

Anti-apartheid activist and politician. Worked for the ANC in London from 1975. Head of the ANC research division, 1979–88, based at the Centre for African Studies at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique, where, in 1982, he was badly injured when a parcel bomb sent by the apartheid regime exploded in the office, leaving him deaf in one ear and killing his colleague, anti-apartheid activist Ruth First. Minister of posts, telecommunications and broadcasting in Mandela’s government, 1994–96. Minister of environmental affairs and tourism, 1996–99. Minister of arts and culture under President Mbeki, 2004–09.

Joseph (née Fennell), Helen (1905–1992)

Teacher, social worker and anti-apartheid and women’s rights activist. Founding member of the COD. National secretary of Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW). Leading organiser of the Women’s March of 20,000 women to Pretoria’s Union Buildings. An accused in the 1956 Treason Trial. Placed under house arrest in 1962. Helped care for Zindziswa and Zenani Mandela when their parents were both imprisoned. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1992.

kaBhekuzulu, King Goodwill Zwelithini (1948–)

King of the Zulu nation. Installed after the death of his father, King Cyprian Bhekhuzulu kaSolomon, in 1968. A regent was appointed until he became of age. After his twenty-first birthday and his first marriage, Zwelithini was installed as the eighth monarch of the Zulu people on 3 December 1971.

Kabila, Laurent (1939–2001)

Politician. Led a military ousting of Mobutu Sese Seko, the president of Zaire. Kabila took office as President and the country was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo as it had been before Mobutu’s presidency. Kabila was assassinated in 2001.

Kadalie, Clements (1896–1951)

Trade unionist. An early South African trade union organisers, Kadalie was born in Malawi and arrived in South Africa in 1918. The following year he founded the Industrial and Commercial Union (ICU), later renamed the Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union of Africa. It played a significant part in representing workers until divisions led to its disintegration in the early 1930s. Kadalie stayed in South Africa, acting for a time as an ANC provincial organiser, till he died.

Kahn, Jacob Meyer

Businessman. Chief executive officer, South African Police Service, 1997–99. Group MD for brewer SABMiller (formerly South African Breweries), 1981–2012 and also as its executive chairman, 1990–2012.

Karaha, Bizima (1968–)

Politician. He became foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo when Laurent Kabila took power from Mobutu. He fled the country when Kabila was assassinated.

Kathrada, Ahmed Mohamed (Kathy) (1929–2017)

Anti-apartheid activist, politician, political prisoner and MP. Leading member of the ANC and of the SACP. Founding member of the Transvaal Indian Volunteer Corps and its successor, the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress. Imprisoned for one month in 1946 for his participation in the SAIC’s Passive Resistance Campaign against the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act. Convicted for his participation in the 1952 Defiance Campaign. Banned in 1954. Co-organiser of the Congress of the People and a member of the Congress Alliance General Purpose Committee. Detained during the 1960 State of Emergency. One of the last twenty-eight accused in the Treason Trial acquitted in 1961. Placed under house arrest in 1962. Arrested at Liliesleaf Farm in July 1963 and charged with sabotage in the Rivonia Trial. Imprisoned on Robben Island, 1964–82, then Pollsmoor Prison until his release on 15 October 1989. MP from 1994, after South Africa’s first democratic elections, and served as political adviser to President Mandela.

Kaunda, Kenneth (1924–)

The first president of Zambia from 1964–91. Allowed the ANC a base from which to operate during its years in exile.

Keys, Derek (1931–)

Politician and businessman. Finance minister in South Africa under both President de Klerk and President Mandela after a career in business. In December 1991, De Klerk appointed him minister of economic coordination and of trade and industry. The finance ministry was added to his portfolio in 1992. After being appointed to Mandela’s cabinet he resigned on 6 July 1994. He was replaced by Chris Liebenberg on 19 September.

King Mswati (1968–)

King of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland).

Kotane, Moses (1905–1978)

Anti-apartheid and political activist. Secretary general of the SACP, 1939–78. Treasurer general of the ANC, 1963–73. Defendant in the 1956 Treason Trial. One of the twenty accused in the Defiance Campaign trial. In 1955 he attended the Bandung Conference in Indonesia. Detained in the 1960 State of Emergency, then placed under house arrest. He went into exile in 1963. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1975.

​ Kriegler, Johann (1932–)

Judge. Appointed chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), December 1993. The IEC’s mandate was to deliver South Africa’s first elections based on universal adult suffrage. One of the first to be appointed to the Constitutional Court, 1994. His term ended in 2002. Since retirement, has carried out work on five continents for the United Nations, the African Union, the Commonwealth of Nations and a host of nongovernmental organisations. Currently deputy chairperson of the Board of Section27, a public interest law centre seeking to achieve equality and social justice in South Africa.

la Grange, Zelda (1970–)

Civil servant, private secretary and personal assistant to Nelson Mandela during his presidential years and afterwards; and author of a book ‘Good morning, Mr Mandela’ recounting her experience of serving him.

Labour Market Commission

The Presidential Labour Market Commission was established by Parliament in 1995 to develop a comprehensive the labour market consistent with the requirements of productivity and macroeconomic stability. Its terms of reference provided for the development of a framework for integrating sustainable economic development and employment growth with rising living standards. Their commission’s report, ‘Restructuring the South African Labour Market’ was published in June 1996.

LaGuma, Alex (1925–1985)

Writer and anti-apartheid activist. Soon after leaving school he became a member of the Communist Party and was a leader of the South African Coloured People's Organisation in the Western Cape in the 1950s and a defendant in the Treason Trial. He wrote for the New Age newspaper. After being placed under house arrest in 1962 and detained in 1963, he went into exile in 1966. He is regarded is one of South Africa’s major novelists.

Lekhanyane, Bishop Barnabas

Leader of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC).

Lembede, Anton (1913–1947)

Politician, teacher and lawyer. He was founding president of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). His thinking played a large part in the articulation of the "Programme of Action" adopted by the ANC in 1949 meeting of the African National Congress. He served articles under Dr Pixley ka-Isaka Seme.

Liberal Party (1953–1968)

Formed in 1953, the Liberal Party advocated gradual extension of the franchise to all, later calling for immediate universal suffrage. In 1968 the party disbanded rather than comply with legislation that went against non-racialism.

Liebenberg, Chris (1934–)

Banker, politician. Worked his way up from the position of messenger in a bank to become one of the top bankers in South Africa, serving as the CEO of Nedbank. Minister of finance under President Mandela 1994–96. Mandela asked him to take over from Derek Keys who resigned as finance minister months into his presidency.

Luthuli, Chief Albert John Mvumbi (1898–1967)

Teacher, anti-apartheid activist and minister of religion. Chief of Groutville Reserve. President general of the ANC, 1952–67. From 1953 he was confined to his home by government bans. Defendant in the 1956 Treason Trial. Sentenced to six months (suspended) in 1960 after publicly burning his passbook and calling for a national day of mourning following the Sharpeville Massacre. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960 for his non-violent role in the struggle against apartheid. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1955 at the Congress of the People.

Luthuli, Daluxolo (1948–)

Umkhonto we Sizwe combatant. In the 1980s after 10 years on Robben Island worked with Inkatha, helping build their paramilitary capacity and commanded hit squads. He gave valuable testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation. He co-authored a book about his experiences, ‘Fighting for a Divided People’.

Mabandla, Brigitte (1948–)

Activist, legal academic and politician. Left South Africa in the mid-1970s, studied law in Zambia and lectured in Botswana. She advised the ANC’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Department and in 1990 became a member of the ANC's Constitutional Committee and its negotiating team. From 1994 she served in government as: deputy minister of arts & culture; minister of public enterprise, of justice & constitutional development, and of housing. As activist, her focus was promoting the rights of women and children.

Mabhida, Moses (1923–1986)

Anti-apartheid activist. A member of the Communist Party who became its General Secretary and was a leading member of the ANC, SACP and COSATU. He played a big part in the preparations for the historic Congress of the people in 1955 where the Freedom Charter was adopted.

Machel née Simbine, Graça (1945–)

Mozambican teacher, human rights activist, international advocate for women’s and children’s rights, and politician. Married Nelson Mandela, July 1998. Widow of Mozambican president Samora Machel (d. 1986). Member of the Mozambican Liberation Front (FRELIMO) which fought for and won independence from Portugal in 1975. Mozambican minister for education and culture after independence. Among numerous awards she has received the United Nations’ Nansen Medal in recognition of her long-standing humanitarian work, particularly on behalf of refugee children.

Madikizela-Mandela, Nomzamo Winifred (Winnie) (1936–2018)

Social worker, anti-apartheid and women’s rights activist. Member of the ANC. Married to Nelson Mandela, 1958–96 (separated 1992). Mother of Zenani and Zindziswa Mandela. First qualified black medical social worker at the Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg. Held in solitary confinement for seventeen months in 1969. Placed under house arrest from 1970 and subjected to a series of banning orders from 1962 to 1987. Established the Black Women’s Federation, 1975, and the Black Parents’ Association, 1976, in response to the Soweto Uprising. President of the ANCWL, 1993–2003. ANC MP.

Maduna, Penuell (1952–)

Anti-apartheid activist, politician, and lawyer. Detained in 1976 and charged an acquitted twice before leaving the country and working for the ANC in exile. Involved in the ANC’s development of its approach to a democratic constitution and then in the negotiations process from 1990. He became deputy minister of home affairs in 1994, minister of mineral and energy affairs in 1996 and minister of justice and constitutional development in 1999.

Mahabane, Zacchaeus Richard (1881–1971)

Priest and anti-apartheid activist. He was elected president of the African National Congress (ANC) of the Cape Province in 1919. He was president of the ANC twice, first during 1924 to 1927 and again from 1937 to 1940.

Maharaj, Satyandranath (Mac) (1935–)

Academic, politician, political and anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner and MP. Leading member of the ANC, SACP and MK. Convicted of sabotage in 1964 and sentenced to twelve years’ imprisonment which he served on Robben Island. Helped to secretly transcribe Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, and smuggled it out of prison when he was released in 1976. Commanded Operation Vulindlela (Vula), an ANC underground operation to establish an internal underground leadership. Maharaj served on the secretariat of CODESA. Minister of transport, 1994–99. Envoy to President Jacob Zuma.


The presidential residence in Pretoria which was renamed by Mandela as Mahlambandlopfu (Bathing of Elephants or more precisely Dawn in xiTsonga.

Mahomed, Ismail (1931–2000)

Lawyer and chief justice. He defended many anti-apartheid activists and liberation movement members in trials and played a leading role in challenges to the government's administrative and executive decrees. He co-chaired the Conference for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa).He was appointed to the Constitutional Court in 1994 and served as Chief Justice from 1998 to 2000.

Makana (Makhanda, Nxele) (circa1780–1819)

Prophet and warrior. He was imprisoned on Robben Island for leading an attack on Grahamstown. In 1819 Makana with about thirty other prisoners, attempted to escape from Robben Island in three boats. The boats capsized and Makana, while marshalling and urging his men to swim to shore, drowned. The island is sometimes referred to as Makana Island with Makana being a lasting symbol of resistance.

Malan, Magnus (1930–2011)

Soldier and politician. In 1976, he became chief of the South African Defence Force and four years later minister of defence. He left office in 1991, following revelations of secret government funding to the Inkatha Freedom Party and other opponents of the ANC. In 1995 he was charged with other former senior military officers – and eventually acquitted – with responsibility for a massacre at KwaMakutha in Natal.

Maliba, Alpheus (1910–1967)

Anti-apartheid activist. He was a leader of rural and peasant resistance in what was then the Northern Transvaal, and a member of the Communist Party. Despite the banning of the Communist Party and the ANC, he continued to mobilise and organise against the apartheid regime and was banned in 1953 then detained under the terrorism act in 1967. Two weeks after being taken to Pretoria central prison the authorities said that he had committed suicide in his cell.

Mampuru, Kgosi (d.1883)

King of the Bapedi. He was forced to flee his kingdom by his half- brother Sekhukhuni who he later defeated and killed. Mampuru was sentenced to death by hanging and executed for rebelling against the colonial regimes and for the murder of his brother.

Mangena, Mosibudi (1947–)

Academic author and anti-apartheid activist. He was a chair of the South African Students Organisation (SASO) and a national organiser of the Black People’s Convention (BPC). He was arrested and imprisoned on Robben Island. On release he was banned and put under house arrest. He went to exile in 1980 and returned in 1994, becoming president of the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO). He was a member of parliament, deputy minister of education and later minister of science and technology.

Mankahlana, Parks (1964–2000)

Anti-apartheid activist and government spokesperson. Before completing his studies at Fort Hare he left the Eastern Cape because of police harassment. He continued to serve the then banned ANC, moving in and out of the country on political missions. After the unbanning of the ANC he was elected to the executive of the ANC youth league. He became spokesperson for Nelson Mandela during Mandela’s years as president of the country.

Manuel, Trevor (1956–)

Anti-apartheid activist and politician. Appointed regional secretary and national executive member of the UDF, 1983. Between 1985 and 1990, he was repeatedly detained without trial or placed under house arrest for his political activities. Elected to Parliament in 1994 and appointed minister of trade and industry by Mandela. South Africa’s longest serving finance minister, he served under Mandela in 1996 and also served under Thabo Mbeki and then Kgalema Motlanthe until 2009. Between 2009 and 2014 he served as minister in the presidency for the National Planning Commission under Jacob Zuma. Chaired the International Monetary Fund’s Development Committee. Special envoy for development finance for UN Secretaries-General Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon. Co-chaired the Transitional Committee of the Green Climate Fund, 2011, a UN fund to help poorer nations combat and adapt to climate change.

Maqoma, Jongumsobomvu (1798–1873)

Maqoma resisted his father's ceding of the land between the Fish and Keiskamma rivers to the Cape Colony. He fought in three of the nine frontier wars waging successful battles against the colonists. He was imprisoned on Robben Island for 12 years until 1869. His continued resistance led to his being imprisoned again on Robben Island where he died.

Marcus, Gill (1949–)

Political activist, politician, banker. Born to political activist parents who left South Africa for exile in 1969, Marcus began working full-time for the ANC in London in 1970. Elected to Parliament in 1994 and served as the first chairperson on the Joint Standing Committee on Finance. Deputy minister of finance in Mandela’s government from 1996 until 1999 when she left government to take up the position of deputy governor of the South African Reserve Bank. She held the post for five years and then became professor of policy, leadership and gender studies at the Gordon Institute for Business Science before going into business. Governor of the South African Reserve Bank from July 2009 to November 2014.

Marks, John Beaver (J B) (1903–1972)

Political and anti-apartheid activist and trade unionist. President of the ANC in the Transvaal. Chair of the SACP. Banned under the Suppression of Communism Act. President of the Transvaal Council of Non-European Trade Unions. President of the African Mine Workers Union (AMWU). Organised the 1946 African Mine Workers’ Strike. Deployed by the ANC to join the headquarters of the External Mission in Tanzania, 1963.

Masekela, Barbara Mosima Joyce (1941–)

Political activist, academic and ambassador. Left South Africa in the 1960s and studied in Botswana, Swaziland and Ghana. Graduated with a BA from Ohio State University and was assistant professor of English literature at Staten Island Community College, New York, and then at Rutgers University, New Jersey, until 1982. Served as the chair of the US regional political committee of the African National Congress. Headed the ANC’s Department of Arts and Culture, 1983. Returned to South Africa in 1990 and was elected to the ANC National Executive Committee in 1991. Became Mandela’s personal assistant in 1990. Has served as South Africa’s Ambassador to the United States, France and UNESCO.

Masemola, Jafta Kgalabi (Jeff) (1929–1990)

Teacher and anti-apartheid activist. Member of the ANC Youth League, then the PAC. Known as the ‘Tiger of Azania’, founder of the armed wing of the PAC, APLA. Arrested in 1962 charged with sabotage for blowing up power lines and smuggling freedom fighters out of South Africa, received life imprisonment in July 1963. Met Nelson Mandela at Victor Verster Prison on 13 October 1989, which sparked rumours that they discussed unity between the ANC and the PAC. Released from prison on 15 October 1989, and on 17 April 1990 he was killed in a mysterious car accident.

Masire, Quett Ketumile Joni (1925–2017)

President of Botswana from 1980 to 1998.

Maxeke, Charlotte Makgomo (1874–1939)

Anti-apartheid activist, writer and organiser. After graduating from Wilberforce University in the United States, she became involved in political movements and women’s organisations. She was at the launch of the South African Native National Congress which later became the African National Congress. She wrote on the social and political situation of women. She participated in first women’s anti pass campaign. She took part in the formation of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union.

Mazwai, Thamsanqa (Thami) Edmund (1944–)

Journalist, anti-apartheid activist, academic and businessman. He was jailed for two years for refusing to testify against a fellow student. He played a leading part in the organisation of black journalists and then in the South African Editors Forum (SANEF) which was formed through unification of black and white journalists organisations. He resigned from SANEF after disagreement about the roles and responsibilities of the media in South Africa.

Mbeki, Archibald Mvuyelwa Govan (1910–2001)

Historian and anti-apartheid activist. Leading member of the ANC and the SACP. Served on the High Command of MK. Father of Thabo Mbeki (president of South Africa, 1999–2008). Convicted in the Rivonia Trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. Released from Robben Island Prison, 1987. Served in South Africa’s post-apartheid Senate, 1994–97, as deputy president of the Senate, and as a member of its successor, the National Council of Provinces, 1997–99. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1980. Clan name, Zizi.

Mbeki, Mvuyelwa Thabo (1942–)

Politician and anti-apartheid activist. President of South Africa, 1999–2008. Deputy President, 1994–99. Son of Govan Mbeki. Joined the ANCYL in 1956 at the age of fourteen. Left South Africa with other students in 1962. He quickly rose through the ranks of the ANC in exile, and underwent military training in the Soviet Union. He worked closely with OR Tambo and led the ANC delegation that held secret talks with the South African government, participating in all subsequent interactions with the South African government. He served as president of the ANC, 1997–2007.

Mbete, Baleka (1949–)

Anti-apartheid activist, politician and writer. She left South Africa in 1976, worked for the ANC in exile and returned to South Africa in 1990. She was secretary-general of the ANC Women’s League from 1991to1993 and was elected in 1994 to parliament, where she became deputy speaker and then speaker in 2004 to 2008, and again in 2014. She was the ANC’s national chairperson for 10 years from 2007, and deputy president of South Africa from 2008-2009.

Mboweni, Tito Titus (1959–)

Anti-apartheid activist, politician and banker. Left South Africa in 1980 and joined the ANC in exile in Lesotho. Returned to South Africa in 1990 after the unbanning of the ANC. Minister of labour in Mandela’s cabinet from 1994 to July 1998. Appointed head of the ANC’s Policy Department, 1998, which was responsible for managing ANC policy processes. Upon joining the South African Reserve Bank in July 1998 as adviser to the governor, he resigned all of his elected and appointed positions in the ANC. Appointed governor in 1999. Appointed international adviser of Goldman Sachs International, June 2010.

Meiring, Georg (1939–)

Military commander. Joined the South African army in 1963 after obtaining an MSc in physics from the University of the Orange Free State. Chief of the South African Defence Force, 1990–93 with the rank of lieutenant general. Appointed first chief of the South African National Defence Force, 1993–98.


Mercosur is an economic and political bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela dedicated to promoting trade and development amongst its members.

Meyer, Roelf (1947–)

Politician, lawyer and businessman. Played a key role in the transitional negotiations. He served in National Party governments before 1994 as minister of constitutional development and from 1991 as minister of defence. He was minister of constitutional development and provincial affairs in the Government of National Unity until the National Party withdrew. He resigned from the National Party In May 1992.

Mhlaba, Raymond (1920–2005)

Anti-apartheid activist, politician, diplomat and political prisoner. Leading member of ANC and SACP. Commander-in-chief of MK. Sentenced to life imprisonment at the Rivonia Trial. Imprisoned on Robben Island until he was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in 1982. Released in 1989. He was involved in the negotiations with the National Party government leading to the democratisation of South Africa. Member of the ANC National Executive Committee, 1991. Premier of the Eastern Cape, 1994. South African high commissioner to Uganda, 1997. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1992. Clan name, Ndobe.

Mkwayi, Wilton Zimasile (1923–2004)

Trade unionist, political activist and political prisoner. Member of the ANC and the South Africa Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU). Union organiser for African Textile Workers in Port Elizabeth. Volunteer in the 1952 Defiance Campaign, and later active in the campaign for the Congress of the People. Escaped during the 1956 Treason Trial and went to Lesotho. Joined Umkhonto weSizwe and had military training in the People’s Republic of China. Became MK’s commander-in-chief after the arrests at Liliesleaf Farm. Convicted and sentenced to life in what became known as the ‘Little Rivonia Trial’. He served his sentence on Robben Island. Released October 1989. Elected to the Senate in the National Parliament in 1994, then deployed to the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, where he served until his retirement from public life in 1999. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1992. Clan name, Mbona; nickname, Bri Bri.

Mlangeni, Andrew Mokete (1926–)

Anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner and MP. Member of the ANCYL, ANC and MK. Convicted at the Rivonia Trial in 1963 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Served eighteen years on Robben Island and was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in 1982. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1992. Clan name, Motlokwa; nickname, Mpandla.

Modise, Johannes (Joe) (1929–2001)

Anti-apartheid activist and politician. Charged with Mandela and 155 others in the Treason Trial of 1956. All were acquitted. Became a freedom fighter in the 1960s and rose to the position of commander-in-chief of MK, the armed wing of the ANC, holding this position for twenty-five years from 1965 to 1990. After Mandela’s release from prison, Modise returned to South Africa and joined the ANC’s negotiating team in discussions with the ruling National Party. The initial discussion resulted in the Groote Schuur Minute, which paved the way for the return of all exiles and a negotiated end to the apartheid system. Minister of defence in Mandela’s cabinet, 1994–99.

Mokaba, Peter (1959–2002)

Political activist and politician. After working for a short time as a teacher, Peter Mokaba was arrested in 1982 and convicted of possessing weapons and undergoing military training as a member of MK in Mozambique and Angola. He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment but was released after a year, following a successful appeal. Founding member of the South African Youth Congress, and later the organisation’s first president in 1987, Mokaba was hero-worshipped by a large section of South Africa’s youth. President of the ANCYL, 1991–94. Deputy minister of environmental affairs and tourism in Mandela’s cabinet.

Mokgoro, Tebogo (Job) (1948 –)

Anti-apartheid activist, academic and public servant. Has held several academic positions related to governance and administration. In early 1994, when Lucas Mangope was removed as head of the Bophuthatswana bantustan, Mokgoro, a Development Bank manager at the time, was appointed by the Transitional Executive Council as a co-administrator of the bantustan. After the 1994 election he became director-general of the North-West Province, which included much of Bophuthatswana.

Mokotjo, Manthatisi Monyalue (1781–1836)

Queen of Batlokwa. She was leader of the Tlokwa people during her son's minority from 1813 until 1824 and came to be knows as a strong, brave and capable leader, both in times of peace and war.

Molale, Kate Dinkwetse (1928–1980)

Anti-apartheid activist. She was secretary general of the ANC in Sophiatown and a leader of resistance to forced removal from the area. She participated in the drafting of the Freedom Charter and mobilised against the imposition of Bantu education. As repression intensified she went underground and became involved in Umkhonto we-Sizwe, later leaving the country.

Moodley, Srinivasa Rajoo (Strini) (1946–2006)

Journalists and anti-apartheid activist. A founding member of the Black Consciousness Movement, he was banned, arrested in 1974, charged with terrorism and sentenced to five years on Robben Island in 1976. When released in late 1981 worked as a journalist.

Moosa, Mohammed Valli (1957–)

Anti-apartheid activist, politician and businessman. Leading member of the UDF. Participated in the multiparty negotiations to end white minority rule. Deputy minister for provincial and constitutional affairs in Mandela’s cabinet. After the National Party left the GNU in 1996, he became minister in this department. From 1999 he became environment and tourism minister. He went into business after leaving government.

Mophosho, Florence (1921–1985)

Anti-apartheid activist. Inspired by the Defiance Campaign of 1952, she joined the African National Congress. She helped to organise the Congress of the People and was a member of the Alexandra Bus Boycott Committee. During the state of emergency, she went underground and continued to work as an organiser for the ANC until she left the country.

Moroka, Dr James Sebe (1892–1985)

Medical doctor, politician and anti-apartheid activist. President of the ANC, 1949–52. Convicted in the Defiance Campaign Trial in 1952. During the trial he appointed his own lawyer, disassociated himself from the ANC and pleaded for mitigation. As a consequence he was not re-elected president of the ANC, and was replaced by Chief Luthuli.

Mothopeng, Zephania Lekoame (Zeph) (1913–1990)

Teacher and anti-apartheid activist. Joined the ANCYL, 1940. Joined the PAC and was elected its president in 1989 while in prison. Jailed for two years in 1960, and again in 1964, and spent time on Robben Island in the same section as Mandela. Arrested again in 1976 and sentenced to fifteen years in jail. He was released early, in 1988, after he was diagnosed with cancer. Under his leadership, the PAC refused to join the multiparty negotiations for a democratic South Africa.

Motsoaledi, Elias (1924–1994)

Trade unionist, anti-apartheid activist and political prisoner. Member of the ANC, SACP and Council of Non-European Trade Unions (CNETU). Banned after the 1952 Defiance Campaign. Helped to establish the South Africa Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) in 1955. Imprisoned for four months during the 1960 State of Emergency and detained again under the ninety-day detention laws of 1963. Sentenced to life imprisonment at the Rivonia Trial and imprisoned on Robben Island from 1964 to 1989. Elected to the ANC’s National Executive Committee following his release. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1992. Clan name, Mokoni.

Mpetha, Oscar Mafakafaka (1909–1994)

Trade unionist, political activist and a member of the ANC. Detained for four years following the Sharpeville Massacre on 21 March 1960. Sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in 1983 after being convicted of terrorism and for inciting a riot. In the same year, he was elected co-president of the newly formed UDF. He spent the last period of his detention under guard at Groote Schuur Hospital. He was a diabetic and had his leg amputated and was confined to a wheelchair. Released on 15 October 1989, along with a group of political prisoners, following Mandela’s official request that they be released.

Mtirara, Rochelle

Rochelle Mtirara is Nelson Mandela’s traditional grand-daughter who lived and travelled with him as the first lady.

Mufamadi, Fohlisani Sydney (1959–)

Anti-apartheid activist, politician, trade unionist and teacher. Joined the ANC, 1977. Founding member of Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO), 1978. Joined the SACP,1981 and the General and Allied Workers' Union (GAWU) becoming its general secretary in 1984. Elected Transvaal publicity secretary for the UDF, 1983. Elected assistant general secretary of COSATU, 1985. Minister of safety and security in Mandela’s cabinet until 1999. Minister of provincial and local government, 1999 to 2008.

Mugabe, Robert Gabriel (1924–)

President of Zimbabwe from 1987 to 2017.

Mxadana, Mary (1947–2002)

Civil servant, private secretary. Nelson Mandela's first private secretary during his presidential years. Before that, she worked for the South African Council of Churches, heading its development projects.

Mzimela, Sipho (1935–2013)

Anti-apartheid activist and politician. Left South Africa in 1962 after involvement in anti-apartheid protest. For some years he represented the ANC at the United Nations. On his return to South Africa in 1990 he joined the Inkatha Freedom Party. He was Minister of Correctional Services in the government of national unity from 1994 to 1998. He was expelled from the IFP in 1999 and joined the United Democratic Movement (UDM).

Naicker, Dr Gangathura Mohambry (Monty) (1910–1978)

Leading member of South African Indian Congress and the Natal Indian Congress. In 1946, with Yusuf Dadoo, he led passive resistance campaigns among Indian South Africans to protest the Asiatic Land Tenure and the Indian Representation Act. As an early advocate of a multi-racial united front against apartheid he fostered an alliance with the ANC in 1947 known as the Dadoo-Xuma-Naicker Pact, or the Three Doctors' Pact. He was imprisoned several times for anti-apartheid activism.

Naidoo, Jayaseelan (Jay) (1954–)

Politician and trade unionist. As a student he became active in the South African Students Organisation that was banned in 1977 just after its leader Steve Biko was murdered in police detention. Became a community-based organiser and joined the trade union movement. Elected the first general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions at its launch in 1975. Served as minister without portfolio in President Nelson Mandela’s cabinet with responsibility for co-ordinating the Reconstruction and Development Programme. Later served as minister of posts, telecommunications and broadcasting. Chair of the board of directors and of the partnership council of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.

National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC)

Nedlac was established in 1994 in terms of the National Economic Development and Labour Council Act as a forum in which government, organised labour, organised business and community organisations seek to cooperate in approaches to economic, labour and development issues and related challenges facing the country. It focuses on: public finance and monetary policy; the labour market; trade and industry; and development.

National Party (NP)

Conservative South African political party established in Bloemfontein in 1914 by Afrikaner nationalists. Governing party of South Africa, June 1948 to May 1994. Enforced apartheid, a system of legal racial segregation that favoured minority rule by the white population. Renamed the New National Party in 1997; formed an alliance with the Democratic Party in 2001 and disbanded in 2004.

National Security Management System (NSMS)

Established in the mid-eighties under the State Security Council (SSC), the National Security Management System (NSMS) extended across government and from national to local level. It co-ordinated all aspects of state policy and action with the goal of repressing resistance and imposing limited reform. The SSC supplanted the Cabinet as the centre of executive and policy decision-making until the NSMS was dismantled in 1993 by FW De Klerk and the SSC became an advisory committee.

National Working Committee (NWC)

The ANC’s top structures between its National Conferences consist of the National Executive Committee which meets quarterly; the Officials (President; Deputy President, National Chairperson, Treasurer, Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary General) and the National Working Committee (NWC), made up of the Officials and up to a quarter of elected NEC members, plus representatives of the Women’s, Youth and Veterans leagues – the NWC implements NEC decisions and reports to the NEC.

Neto, Agostinho (1922–1979)

First president of Angola (1975–1979), having led the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the liberation struggle. His birthday is celebrated as National Heroes' Day, a public holiday in Angola. He is considered Angola's preeminent poet.

Netshitenzhe, Joel Khathutshelo (1956–)

Anti-apartheid activist and politician. Spent many years in exile from South Africa, working for the ANC. Head of communications in President Mandela’s office. Head of South Africa’s Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), 1998–2006, before heading the Policy Unit in the presidency. Served on South Africa’s first National Planning Commission, 2010–15. Executive director and board vice-chairperson of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA).

New National Party (NNP)

Originated in 1997 as a renamed National Party, which ruled the country from 1948 to 1994, in an attempt to distance itself from its apartheid past, and reinvent itself as a moderate, mainstream conservative and non-racist federal party. It formed an alliance with the Democratic Party in 2001 and disbanded in 2004.

Ngoyi, Lilian Masediba (1911–1980)

Politician, anti-apartheid and women’s rights activist, and orator. Leading member of the ANC. First woman elected to the ANC Executive Committee, 1956. President of the ANC Women’s League. President of Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW). Led the Women’s March against pass laws, 1956. Charged and acquitted in the Treason Trial. Detained in the 1960 State of Emergency. Detained and held in solitary confinement for seventy-one days in 1963 under the ninety-day detention law. Continuously subjected to banning orders. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1982.

Ngubane, Ben (1941–)

Politician and businessman. An Inkatha member from 1976, he was a member of the KwaZulu legislative assembly. In 1994 he became minister of arts, culture, science and technology in the government of national unity until 1997 when he became premier of KwaZulu-Natal. In 1999 he was again appointed to the ministry of arts, culture, science and technology.

Nhlanhla, Joe (1936–2008)

Anti-apartheid activist and politician. Joined the ANC Youth League, in 1957 and left the country in 1964. He held administrative positions in the ANC in exile and became its head of intelligence in 1987. He was involved in the transition process both before and after 1990. He was elected a member of the National Assembly in the first democratic elections and in 1995 was appointed deputy minister of intelligence.

Niekerk, Andre (Kraai) van (1938–)

Politician and farmer. He became Deputy Minister of Agriculture under P. W. Botha in 1986 and Minister of Agriculture under FW De Klerk in1990. He remained Minister of Agriculture in the Government of National Unity from 1994 until the National Party left the Government of National Unity.

Nkadimeng, John Kgwana (1925–)

Anti-apartheid activist and trade unionist. Detained during the 1952 Defiance Campaign, charged with treason in the 1956 Treason Trial and banned in 1963. He left the country in 1976 and worked in the liberation movement in exile. He was general secretary the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) in which position he contributed to the formation of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). He was appointed Ambassador to Cuba in 1995.

Nkobi, Thomas Titus (1922–1994)

Anti-apartheid activist, treasurer, member of Parliament. Joined ANC, 1950, and participated in the Defiance Campaign Against Unjust Laws and the 1955 Congress of the People. National organiser of the ANC, 1958. Arrested during the 1960 State of Emergency for his role as one of the initiators of the Mandela M-Plan to establish underground networks of the ANC. Went into exile, 1963, mainly living in Lusaka. ANC treasurer general, 1973–1994. Returned to South Africa, 1990, and was elected as a member of Parliament.

Nokwe, Philemon Pearce Dumasile (Duma) (1927–1978)

Lawyer and political activist. Member of the ANCYL. Leading member of the ANC. Secretary of the ANCYL, 1953–58. Participated in the Defiance Campaign. Prevented from teaching, he studied law and became the first black lawyer to be admitted to the Transvaal Supreme Court. However he could not practise as he was an accused in the 1956–61 Treason Trial. He was elected secretary general at the ANC’s annual conference in 1958, a post he held until 1969. He was ordered by the ANC to flee into exile, and he left the country in 1963 with Moses Kotane. He helped establish the ANC in exile, lobbying at many international forums.

Non Aligned Movement

A grouping of states not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. It was initiated in 1961 to represent the interests of developing countries, particularly in the eradication of colonialism, supporting struggles for liberation and self-determination, the pursuit of world peace and the search for a more equitable and just global order. The South African liberation movements participated as observers in its activities until 1994 when South Africa became a member.

Non-European Unity Movement (NEUM)

A small left organisation launched in 1943, which stressed non-collaboration with apartheid institutions and rejected race-based organisation, in contrast with the main political formations of the time. It had split by 1957 but some coming from its ranks continued to act in line with its approach, some of them being imprisoned on Robben Island, including Neville Alexander, Fikile Bam and Don Davies.

Nyanda, Siphiwe (1950–)

Politician, political activist and military commander. Joined MK, the armed wing of the ANC, in 1974. Appointed MK chief of staff in 1992. Served on the Transitional Executive Council which oversaw the end of white minority rule. When MK was incorporated into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1994, Nyanda rose through the ranks to Chief of the SANDF in 1998. He remained in this position until 2005. Minister of communications under President Jacob Zuma, 2009–10.

Nyerere, Julius Kambarage (1922–1999)

President of Tanzania from 1960–1985.

Nzo, Alfred Baphetuxolo (1925–2000)

Leading member of the ANCYL and ANC. Participant in the 1952 Defiance Campaign, and the Congress of the People. In 1962, Nzo was placed under twenty-four-hour house arrest, and in 1963 he was detained for 238 days. After his release the ANC ordered him to leave the country. He represented the ANC in various countries including Egypt, India, Zambia and Tanzania. He succeeded Duma Nokwe as secretary general in 1969, and held this post until the first legal ANC conference in South Africa in 1991. He was part of the ANC delegation that participated in talks with the De Klerk government after 1990. Appointed minister of foreign affairs in the newly democratic South Africa, 1994. Received a number of awards including the Order of Luthuli in Gold, 2003.

Obasanjo, Olusegun (1937–)

Nigerian general, statesman, and diplomat. He was Nigeria’s military ruler, 1976–1979 until handing power to a civilian government and later an elected civilian president, 1999-2007. As a member of the 1985 Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group (EPG) Obasanjo consulted Mandela in prison. The EPG’s recommendations included economic sanctions and a ‘negotiating concept’ linking release of prisoners with ANC suspending violence.

Ogata, Sadako (1927–)

Japanese academic, diplomat, administrator. She was United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from 1991 to 2000. In 1997, together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), she appealed to Mandela to persuade the Zairean rebel leader Laurent Kabila to facilitate an airlift of refugees from Kisangani.

Omar, Abdullah Mohamed (Dullah) (1934–2004)

Anti-apartheid activist, lawyer and politician. Minister of justice from 1994 to 1999 and minister of transport until his death. He was a member of the Unity Movement in the early 1970's and 1980's before becoming a leading member of the United Democratic Front. As a lawyer he defended ANC and PAC members on trial during the apartheid era.


A town in the Northern Cape exclusively for Afrikaaners. In 1995 NM visited Betsie Verwoerd, the widow of Prime Minister H. F. Verwoerd, in the white enclave of Orania.

Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation

Launched in 1996, after South Africa achieved democracy, the Organ is an institution of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) with the mandate to support the achievement and maintenance of security and rule of law in the SADC region. It evolved from the Frontline States (FLS), an alliance of Southern Africa’s independent countries originating in the 1960s. The FLS gave logistical, diplomatic and political support to the liberation movements of Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.

Organisation of African Unity (OAU)

Formed on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with thirty-two signatory governments and eventually including all of Africa’s fifty-three states excluding Morocco, which withdrew in 1984. It aimed to eradicate all forms of colonialism and white minority rule on the African continent. It also aimed to coordinate and intensify the cooperation of African states to achieve a better life for the people of Africa and to defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of African states. It was disbanded on 9 July 2002 by its last chairperson, South African President Thabo Mbeki, and replaced by the African Union.

Pahad, Aziz Goolam (1940–)

Politician and anti-apartheid activist. Went into exile in 1964 and became a full-time campaigner for the banned ANC from 1966. Instrumental in developing the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the United Kingdom and in Europe. Elected onto the National Executive Committee of the ANC in 1985. Returned to South Africa after the ANC was legalised in 1990 and participated in the negotiations to end white minority rule. Served as deputy minister of foreign affairs under President Mandela and his successor, Thabo Mbeki. Resigned from cabinet in September 2008.

Pahad, Essop (1939–)

Anti-apartheid activist and politician. He was a member of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress and arrested in 1962 for organising an illegal strike after the ANC was banned. He went into exile after he was banned. In 1994 he became Deputy President Mbeki’s parliamentary counsellor and in 1996 deputy minister in Deputy President Mbeki’s office. After the 1999 national election he became minister in the presidency.

Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC)

Breakaway organisation of the ANC founded in 1959 by Robert Sobukwe, who championed the philosophy of ‘Africa for Africans’. The PAC’s campaigns included a nationwide protest against pass laws, ten days before the ANC was to start its own campaign. It culminated in the Sharpeville Massacre on 21 March 1960, in which police shot dead sixty-nine unarmed protesters. Banned, along with the ANC, in April 1960. Unbanned on 2 February 1990.

Pan-African Freedom Movement of East, Central and South Africa (PAFMECSA)

A regional grouping which preceded the Organisation of African Unity. In 1958 East Africans seeking liberation founded the Pan African Freedom Movement for East and Central Africa. In 1962 it became the Pan African Freedom Movement for East Central and South Africa (PAFMECSA) when it broadened its scope to include Southern Africa. During that year Mandela addressed a PAFMECSA conference as he was visiting African countries to seek support for the ANC’s struggle.


After the 1994 election and during the period the country lived under an Interim constitution, Parliament consisted of the National Assembly and a Senate which was replaced in 1997 by the National Council of Provinces when the new constitution was introduced.

Passive Resistance Campaign of 1946

The Passive Resistance Campaign was a non-violent campaign against a proposed law, the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act - also known as the Ghetto Act, by Prime Minister Jan Smuts’s government to severely restrict the right of Indian South Africans to own land. At the end of the campaign in 1948, more than 2,000 men and women had been arrested.

Peake, George (1922–)

Political activist, founding member and national chairperson of the South African Coloured People’s Organisation (later the CPC), 1953. Charged and acquitted in the Treason Trial. Subjected to banning orders and detained for five months in the 1960 State of Emergency. Cape Town city councillor from March 1961 until he was charged with sabotage and imprisoned for two years in 1962. Fled South Africa in 1964.

People’s Forums

In the run-up to the first democratic election in 1994 the African National Congress held People’s Forums which provided a platform for people and communities to interact with Mandela and other leaders and to express their needs and their demands, and then their responses to the ANC’s manifesto which was influenced by the forums.

Phosa, Mathews (1952-)

Anti-apartheid activist, lawyer and politician. A member of the ANC National Executive Committee. On return from exile he was involved in the transition negotiations. He was premier of Mpumalanga province from 1994-99.

Plaatje, Solomon Tshekisho (Sol) (1876–1932)

Author, journalist, linguist, newspaper editor and political publicist, and human rights activist. Member of the African People’s Organisation. First secretary general of the SANNC (renamed as the ANC in 1923), 1912. First black South African to write a novel in English (Mhudi, published 1913). Established the first Setswana/English weekly, Koranta ea Becoana (Newspaper of the Tswana), 1901, and Tsala ea Becoana (The Friend of the People), 1910. Member of the SANNC deputation that appealed to the British government against the Land Act of 1913, which severely restricted the rights of Africans to own or occupy land.

Pokela, John Nyathi (1922–1985)

Anti-apartheid activist. Member of the ANCYL. Co-founder and leading member of the PAC. Sentenced to thirteen years’ imprisonment in 1966 for his participation in Poqo, the PAC’s armed wing. President of the PAC from 1981.

Pollsmoor Prison

Maximum security prison in the suburb of Tokai, Cape Town. Mandela was moved there from Robben Island along with Walter Sisulu, Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni and, later, Ahmed Kathrada in 1982.

Presidential Review Commission (PRC)

The commission was set up to make recommendations for the transformation of the public service after 1994.

Pretorius, Fanie (1949–)

Civil servant. He was Chief Director of Corporate Services in the pre-1994 President’s Office and continued to serve in the post during Nelson Mandela’s presidency.


When South Africa achieved democracy, the four existing provinces (Cape, Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal) were reconfigured as nine provinces: Eastern Cape; Northern Cape, Western Cape; Free State; KwaZulu-Natal; Gauteng; North West; Limpopo and Mpumalanga. The bantustan administrations were integrated into the provincial administrations.


Rural village in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province where Mandela lived after his family moved from his birthplace of Mvezo.

Radebe, Jeffrey Thamsanqa (Jeff) (1953–)

Anti-apartheid activist, and politician. Joined the ANC’s underground structures in 1976 and left the country in 1977. He was arrested in Johannesburg in 1986 and sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. The longest serving minister since the 1994 democratic elections, he has held several ministerial posts starting with public works in Nelson Mandela’s government.

Ramaphosa, Matamela Cyril (1952–)

Politician, businessman and trade unionist. First secretary of the powerful National Union of Mineworkers, 1982. Instrumental in the establishment of Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Chairman of the National Reception Committee which coordinated Mandela’s release from prison. Elected ANC general secretary, 1991. Played a pivotal role in the negotiations to end white minority rule for which he earned the praise of Mandela. Left government for the business world when in 1994 he lost out as deputy president under President Mandela to Thabo Mbeki. Elected deputy president of the ANC in December 2012 and has served as deputy president of South Africa under President Zuma from 2014.

Ramatlhodi, Ngoako (1955–)

Anti-apartheid activist and politician. Went into exile in Lesotho in 1980 where he qualified in law. From 1994 to 2004 he was premier of the Limpopo province. He later occupied ministerial positions in government.

Ramos-Horta, José (1949–)

East Timorese politician. He left East Timor to act as foreign minister for Fretelin (Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor) mobilising support for the cause of East Timorese independence. He was the President of East Timor, from 2007 to 2012.

Rawlings, Jerry (1947–)

Military and political leader in Ghana. He became Ghana’s head of state through military seizure of power in 1979, for a short period, and again in 1981. Rawlings was elected president in 1992, in Ghana’s first presidential elections since 1979 and re-elected in 1996.

Ready to Govern

At its National Conference in May 1992, as the first democratic election approached, the ANC debated and adopted a document setting out policy perspectives ‘Ready to govern: ANC policy guidelines for a democratic South Africa’

Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP)

Implemented by Mandela’s ANC government, the RDP was designed to address the huge socioeconomic disparities created by apartheid. It focused on alleviating poverty and addressing massive shortfalls in social services.

Record of Understanding

The ‘Record of Understanding’ between the ANC and National Party government was negotiated through a back-channel at a time when the ANC had withdrawn from negotiations following the massacre at Boipatong. The‘Record’ set a timetable for a constitutional assembly, an interim government and dealing with political prisoners, amongst others. The signing of the agreement in September 1992 opened the way to resuming negotiations.


Formed in 1976 as an anti-Communist rebel group in Mozambique, it fought the ruling Frelimo with the backing of the neighbouring white-minority regimes of colonial Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa which supplied it with arms. Following a 1992 peace accord it took part in elections in 1994, becoming the country’s official opposition party.

Rivonia Trial

Trial between 1963 and 1964 in which ten leading members of the Congress Alliance were charged with sabotage and faced the death penalty. Named after the suburb of Rivonia, Johannesburg, where six members of the MK High Command were arrested at their hideout, Liliesleaf Farm, on 11 July 1963. Incriminating documents, including a proposal for a guerrilla insurgency named Operation Mayibuye, were seized. Mandela, who was already serving a sentence for incitement and leaving South Africa illegally, was implicated, and his notes on guerrilla warfare and his diary from his trip through Africa in 1962 were also seized. Rather than being cross-examined as a witness, Mandela made a statement from the dock on 20 April 1964. This became his famous ‘I am prepared to die’ speech. On 11 June 1964 eight of the accused were convicted by Justice Quartus de Wet at the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, and the next day were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Robben Island

Island situated in Table Bay, 7 kilometres off the coast of Cape Town, measuring approximately 3.3 kilometres long and 1.9 kilometres wide. Has predominantly been used as a place of banishment and imprisonment, particularly for political prisoners, since Dutch settlement in the seventeenth century. Three men who later became South African presidents have been imprisoned there: Nelson Mandela (1964–1982), Kgalema Motlanthe (1977–1987) and Jacob Zuma (1963–1973). Now a World Heritage Site and museum.

Rugby World Cup

The 1995 Rugby World Cup was the first major international rugby event in South Africa after the lifting of the international anti-apartheid sport boycott. It became an enduring symbol of the democratic government’s approach to reconciliation and nation-building when Nelson Mandela donned the Springbok rugby jersey and joined the captain on the field to lift the World Cup in victory.


The Ruiterwag was created in 1958 as a youth wing of the Broederbond. The Broederbond originated in 1918 as a secret organisation promoting white Afrikaner political, cultural and economic interests – it came to permeate the apartheid state and the political, cultural and economic formations of white Afrikaner society.

Rupert, Johan (1950–)

Businessman. One of South Africa’s wealthiest and influential business leaders, who took over and expanded a family business started in the 1940s.

Sachs, Albert (Albie) Louis (1935–)

Anti-apartheid activist, lawyer and judge. While in exile in Mozambique he lost an arm and sight in one eye when an apartheid agent placed a bomb in his car. Involved in developing the ANC’s approach to a democratic constitution. Member of the ANC’s Constitutional and National Executive Committees. Nelson Mandela appointed him to the Constitutional Court in 1994.

Saro-Wiwa, Ken (1941–1995)

Nigerian writer and environmental activist executed in 1995 by Nigeria’s military ruler, General Sani Abacha.

Sekhukhune (1814–1982)

King of the Marota people (commonly called Bapedi). Illegitimate ruler who came to power using military force. As a result, his half-brother, and the legitimate heir, Mampuru, was forced to flee from the kingdom. He built his power by entering into diplomatic marriages with various royal dynasties, by incorporating other societies into his empire and by military conquest. This increased his support base and gave him legitimacy.

Seme, Pixley ka Isaka (1881–1951)

Political activist. Received his English name from American missionary Reverend S. C. Pixley who sent him to high school in the USA. Returned to South Africa after studying at both Columbia University and Oxford University. Co-founded the ANC, 8 January 1912 (through the South African Native National Congress) and was its president, 1930–37.

Senghor, Leopold (1906–2001)

The first president of Senegal, from 1960 to 1980.

September(née McLeod), Hetty

Trade unionist and anti-apartheid activist. She was a leading activist of the South African Coloured People’s Organisation and a member of the Communist Party.

Sharpeville Massacre

Confrontation in the township of Sharpeville, Gauteng Province. On 21 March 1960, sixty-nine unarmed anti-pass protesters were shot dead by police and over 180 were injured. The PAC organised demonstration attracted between 5,000 and 7,000 protesters. This day is now commemorated annually in South Africa as a public holiday: Human Rights Day.

Sigcau, Stella (1937–2006)

Anti-apartheid activist and politician. Joined the ANC Youth League while a student at the University of Fort Hare. She was politically active in the Transkei and was elected to the Transkei Legislative Assembly. She held several portfolios in the Transkei executive and campaigned to advanced women’s rights. Elected to parliament in 1994, she was minister of public enterprises from 1994-99, and then minister of public works until her death in 2006.

Sigxashe, Sizakele (1937–2011)

Anti-apartheid activist, academic and public servant. Was involved in ANC activities as a young person and left the country in 1964 to work in the ANC in exile. He obtained a PhD in Economics in the Soviet Union and lectured at the University of Dar es Salaam in the 1970s. He joined Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and its intelligence arm in 1978. In 1994 he became the first director-general of the National Intelligence Agency.

Sisulu (née Thethiwe), Nontsikelelo (Ntsiki) Albertina (1918–2011)

Nurse, midwife, anti-apartheid and women’s rights activist, and MP. Leading ANC member. Married Walter Sisulu, whom she met through her nursing friend, Evelyn Mase (Mandela’s first wife), 1944. Member of the ANCWL and Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW). Played a leading role in the 1956 women’s anti-pass protest. The first woman to be arrested under the General Laws Amendment Act, 1963, during which time she was held in solitary confinement for ninety days. Continually subjected to banning orders and police harassment from 1963. Elected as one of the three presidents of the UDF at its formation in August 1983. In 1985 charged with fifteen other UDF and trade union leaders for treason in what became known as the Pietermaritzburg Treason Trial. MP from 1994 until she retired in 1999. President of the World Peace Council, 1993–96. Recipient of the South African Women for Women Woman of Distinction Award 2003, in recognition of her courageous lifelong struggle for human rights and dignity.

Sisulu, Max Vuyisile (1945–)

Anti-apartheid activist, politician, academic and businessman. Member of parliament and Speaker of the National Assembly from 2009 to 2013.

Sisulu, Walter Ulyate Max (1912–2003)

Anti-apartheid activist and political prisoner. Husband of Albertina Sisulu. Met Mandela in 1941 and introduced him to Lazar Sidelsky who employed Mandela as an articled clerk. Leader of the ANC, and generally considered to be the ‘father of the struggle’. Co-founder of the ANCYL in 1944. Arrested and charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for playing a leading role in the 1952 Defiance Campaign. Arrested and later acquitted in the 1956 Treason Trial. Continually served with banning orders and placed under house arrest following the banning of the ANC and PAC. Helped established MK, and served on its High Command. Went underground in 1963 and hid at Liliesleaf Farm, in Rivonia, where he was arrested on 11 July 1963. Found guilty of sabotage at the Rivonia Trial, and sentenced to life imprisonment on 12 June 1964. He served his sentence on Robben Island and at Pollsmoor Prison. Released on 15 October 1989. One of the ANC team negotiating with the apartheid government to end white rule. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1992. Clan names, Xhamela and Tyhopho.

Sita, Nana (1898–1969)

Activist. Born in India, he came to South Africa in 1913. He was a member of the Transvaal Indian Congress and became its president in 1953. He played a leading part in campaigns of defiance during the 1950s and 1960s, and was detained or imprisoned a number of times.

Skweyiya, Zola (1942–2018)

An activist from his schooldays, Zola Skweyiya left South Africa in 1963. After his return in 1990 he chaired the ANC Constitution Committee and then headed the ANC’s civil service unit charged with preparing for when the ANC went into government. From 1994 to1999 he was minister of public service and administration.

Slabbert, Dr Frederik van Zyl (1940–2010)

Politician, academic and businessman. He led the Progressive Federal Party (PFP), a small opposition party in the white apartheid parliament but resigned in 1986, convinced that that parliament could not contribute to resolving the country’s problems, and co-founded the Institute for Democratic Alternatives in South Africa (IDASA) together with Alex Boraine. He helped facilitate a meeting in Dakar in 1987 between the ANC and leading (mainly Afrikaner) politicians, academics and businessmen.

Slovo, Joe (1926–1995)

Lawyer, anti-apartheid activist, intellectual, politician. Helped establish the Congress of Democrats (COD). Accused in the 1956 Treason Trial. Detained for six months during the 1960 State of Emergency. In exile from 1963 to 1990 and lived in the UK, Angola, Mozambique and Zambia. Was general secretary of the SACP, 1986 and chief of staff of MK. Participated in the multiparty negotiations to end white rule. Minister of housing in Mandela’s government from 1994. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe in 1994.

Smit, Sebastiaan (Basie)

Civil servant. Former security policeman implicated in the charge of attempted murder when Frank Chikane was sent poisoned T-shirts in 1989. Head of the police’s narcotics bureau in Durban and later became the Northern Transvaal divisional commander of the security branch. After 1994 he had a short stint as deputy police commissioner and later appeared before the TRC.

Smith, William

Civil servant. He headed South Africa’s Cabinet Secretariat both before 1994 and after the achievement of democracy, until retiring in 2016.

Sobhuza, King (1899–1982)

King of Swaziland until his death in 1982. By then he had led Swaziland as Paramount Chief and then King for over 80 years.

​Sobukwe, Robert Mangaliso (1924–1978)

Lawyer, anti-apartheid activist and political prisoner. Member of the ANCYL and the ANC until he formed the PAC based on the vision of ‘Africa for Africans’. Editor of The Africanist newspaper. Arrested and detained following the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960. Convicted of incitement and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. He spent another 6 years in prison under a law which allowed already convicted political prisoners to have their imprisonment renewed – this became known as the ‘Sobukwe Clause’. Released in 1969 banished to Galeshewe, Kimberley and placed under house arrest. Studied law, and opened his own law practice in 1975.

South African Communist Party (SACP)

Established in 1921 as the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA), to oppose imperialism and racist domination. Changed its name to the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1953 following its banning in 1950. The SACP was only legalised in 1990. The SACP forms the Tripartite Alliance with the ANC and COSATU .

South African Reserve Bank

South Africa’s central bank

Southern African Development Community (SADC)

An intergovernmental organisation of fifteen Southern African states, established on 17 August 1992, which aims to further socio-economic cooperation and integration of its members. It was a successor to the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), which was established on 1 April 1980 when nine majority-ruled southern African countries signed the Lusaka Declaration ‘Towards Economic Liberation’.

Stals, Christian Lodewyk (Chris) (1935–)

Civil servant, banker. He joined the South African Reserve Bank in 1955 as a clerk and was then transferred to the department of economic research and statistics. In 1989 he became adviser to the minister of finance and then governor of the Reserve Bank, a position he held until 1999

State of Emergency, 1960

Declared on 30 March 1960 as a response to the Sharpeville Massacre. Characterised by mass arrests and the imprisonment of most African leaders. On 8 April 1960 the ANC and PAC were banned under the Unlawful Organisations Act.

Stengel, Richard (1955–)

Editor and author. Collaborated with Mandela on his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom (published 1994). Co-producer of the documentary Mandela, 1996. Editor of TIME magazine.

Steyn, Pierre (1942–)

Military officer. Having served in the South African Air Force, he became chief of the defence staff in 1992. In this position he produced the ‘Steyn Report’, the result of an investigation into the role of the apartheid military intelligence structures in fomenting violence in the period before the 1994 elections. He was secretary for defence from 1994 to1998.

Stofile, Makhenkesi Arnold (1944–2016)

Anti-apartheid activist, priest and politician, and sportsman. Leading member of the United Democratic Front (UDF). He served a three-year jail sentence for assisting ANC combatants. He was elected to the National Assembly in 1994 and became the ANC’s chief whip. From 1997 to 2004 he was premier of the Eastern Cape and then minister of sport and recreation until 2010. Ambassador to Germany.

Streeter, Chris

Civil servant and diplomat. As an official of the Department of Foreign Affairs he was a member of the Foreign Relations sub-council of the Transitional Executive Council. He then headed a team of foreign affairs officials which staffed President Mandela private office in the first days of his presidency. After returning to foreign affairs he served as South Africa’s ambassador to Peru.


Indonesian military leader and politician. President of Indonesia for 31 years from 1967. When civil war broke out in neighbouring Portuguese Timor in 1974 after the Portuguese withdrew, Suharto intervened with approval of western countries, invading and annexing the territory as the East Timor province of Indonesia and violently suppressing resistance. Mandela contributed to a United Nations sponsored resolution of the conflict and East Timor’s independence.

Suppression of Communism Act, No. 44, 1950

Act passed 26 June 1950, in which the state banned the SACP and any activities it deemed communist, defining ‘communism’ in such broad terms that anyone protesting against apartheid would be in breach of the act.

Suttner, Raymond (1945–)

Anti-apartheid activist, academic and writer. Spent eight years in prison from 1975 to 1983 for underground activities of the ANC and SACP. Leading member of the UDF. Detained without trial during the state of emergency in the 1980s.

Tambo, Oliver Reginald (OR) (1917–1993)

Lawyer, politician and anti-apartheid activist. Leading member of the ANC and founder member of the ANCYL. Co-founder, with Mandela, of South Africa’s only African legal practice in the 1950s. Became secretary general of the ANC after Walter Sisulu was banned, and deputy president of the ANC, 1958. Served with a five-year banning order, 1959. Left South Africa during the 1960s to manage the external activities of the ANC and to mobilise opposition against apartheid. Established military training camps outside South Africa. Initiated the Free Mandela Campaign in the 1980s. Acting president of the ANC, 1967, after the death of Chief Albert Luthuli. Was elected president in 1969 at the Morogoro Conference, a post he held until 1991 when he became the ANC’s national chairperson. Awarded the ANC’s highest honour, Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, in 1992.

Terre’Blanche, Eugene (1941–2010)

White supremacist, policeman, farmer and unsuccessful politician. Founder and leader of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging – AWB) which swore to use violence to preserve white minority rule and stormed the World Trade Centre in Johannesburg while the negotiations for white minority rule were under way. Served three years in prison for assaulting a petrol station attendant and for attempting to murder a security guard. He was released in June 2004 and on 3 April 2010 he was murdered.

Thema, Selope (1886–1955)

Journalist and political activist. Leading member of the ANC. Secretary of the deputation to the Versailles Peace Conference and the British government, 1919.

Transitional Executive Council (TEC)

Established in 1993 as a multiparty council to facilitate the transition to democracy. The TEC was to level the playing field and create a climate for free political activity in the run-up to the elections in April 1994. The TEC was made up of a management committee and several sub-councils: law and order; stability and security; defence; intelligence; foreign affairs; status of women; finance; and regional, local government and traditional authorities.

Treason Trial (1956–1961)

The Treason Trial was the apartheid government’s attempt to quell the power of the Congress Alliance. In early morning raids on 5 December 1956, 156 individuals were arrested and charged with high treason. By the end of the trial in March 1961 all the accused either had the charges withdrawn or, in the case of the last twenty-eight accused including Mandela, were acquitted.

Trew, Anthony (Tony) (1941–)

Anti-apartheid and ANC activist. Imprisoned, 1964–65. Left South Africa for exile in the United Kingdom. Appointed director of research at the International Defence and Aid Fund, 1980. Returned to South Africa in 1991 to work as a researcher for the ANC. Worked in communications research in President Nelson Mandela’s office, 1994–99.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)

Established by Mandela in 1995 as a way for South Africa to heal after decades of brutal abuse in the apartheid era.The work of the TRC was done through the Human Rights Violation Committee investigating human rights abuses occurring from 1960 to 1994; the Reparation and Repatriation Committee dealing with compensation and the Amnesty Committee would consider granting amnesty from prosecution to those perpetrators provided they make full disclosure and acted politically. In 1998 the TRC delivered its report to Mandela, and completed its work in 2003.

Tshivhase, Khosi Ratshimphi (1946–)

Chief of the vhaVenda haTshivhase ca1931-1946. He was deposed by the apartheid government. He died in 1946 in prison

Tshwete, Steve Vukile (1938–2002)

Anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner, politician and MP. Member of the ANC and MK. Imprisoned on Robben Island, 1964 to 1978, for being a member of a banned organisation. Served as regional coordinator for the UDF in the 1980s but had to go into exile for his ANC underground activities. Was part of the ANC negotiating team. Minister of sport and recreation, 1994–99. Promoted the de-racialisation of South African sport. Minister of safety and security, 1999–2002.

Tutu, Archbishop Desmond (1931–)

Archbishop Emeritus and anti-apartheid and human rights activist. Bishop of Lesotho, 1976–78. First black general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, 1978. Following the 1994 election, he chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate apartheid-era crimes. Recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for seeking a nonviolent end to apartheid; the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, 1986; and the Gandhi Peace Prize, 2005.


The building housing the president’s office in Cape Town, the legislative capital and seat of parliament.

Umkhonto weSizwe (MK)

Umkhonto weSizwe, meaning ‘spear of the nation’, was founded in 1961 and is commonly known by the abbreviation MK. Nelson Mandela was its first commander-in-chief. It became the military wing of the ANC. On the eve of the 1994 elections MK was disbanded and its soldiers incorporated into the newly formed South African National Defence Force (SANDF) with soldiers from the apartheid South African Defence Force, Bantustan defence forces, IFP’s self-protection units and Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA), the military wing of the PAC.

Union Buildings

The buildings housing the office of the President in Pretoria, the country’s administrative capital.

United Democratic Front (UDF)

A non-racial coalition with hundreds of affiliated civic, church, students', workers' and other organisations. It launched in 1983, initially to fight the segregated Tricameral Parliament. By 1987 many activists were imprisoned or detained. Though not formally ANC-aligned, it adopted the Freedom Charter and demanded the release of political prisoners. In 1989, following restrictions on UDF and COSATU, the two began cooperating in a loose alliance called the Mass Democratic Movement. After the liberation movements were unbanned in 1990, the UDF disbanded.

United Workers' Union of South Africa (UWUSA)

Uwusa was formed in Durban on 1 May 1986 by Mangosuthu Buthelezi in direct reaction to the formation of Cosatu and the political stance it adopted.

University of Fort Hare

Located at Alice in the Eastern Cape, the institution started as the South African Native College before becoming the University of Fort Hare. It was the principal institution of higher education for Africans from 1916 to 1959 from across Southern Africa and beyond. Fort Hare alumni have played leading parts in struggles for independence and freedom and in post-liberation governments. In 1959, it was subsumed by the apartheid system, but became part of the democratic South Africa’s higher education system.

Urban Bantu Councils

The Urban Bantu Councils were part of the apartheid system. They were established outside the bantustans in areas where Africans were denied rights beyond election to the councils. They were assigned limited administrative duties but deprived of sustainable income as ‘African’ areas had little taxable economic activity. Boycott of council elections sustained over many years and hostility from communities rendered them ineffective.

Van der Merwe, Fanie

Civil servant. He was director general of prisons during the 1980s and was one of a four person team that met with Mandela while he was in prison. He became De Klerk's chief constitutional advisor and was part of the government delegation at Groote Schuur meeting in 1990. He was in charge of the overall management of the negotiations at the World Trade Centre along with Mac Maharaj.

​Van der Merwe, Johan (1950–2012)

Police officer. Joined the South African Police Force in 1953. Commanded the security branch of the police from January 1986 until October 1989 when he was promoted to deputy commissioner of the South African Police. Became a general in January 1990 when he became commissioner of the South African Police. Retired in March 1995.

van der Merwe, Sue (1954–)

Anti-apartheid activist and politician. From 1988 to 1991 she coordinated the Cape Town Advice Office of the Black Sash, an organisation fighting against injustice and inequality, in both political and practical ways. She was a member of parliament from 1996 to 2013; parliamentary counsellor to President Mbeki and deputy minister of foreign relations from 2004 to 2010.

Van Eck, Jan (1943–2009)

Politician and diplomat. As a member of the Progressive Federal Party (PFP) he was expelled from parliament for six months after refusing to withdraw his claim that state agents were behind township attacks. In1987 he resigned from the PFP when the party withheld support for his anti-apartheid activities. He joined the Democratic Party in 1989 and the ANC in 1992. He left Parliament in 1994 and became a peace facilitator in the Great Lakes region.

Van Riebeeck, Jan (1619–1677)

Dutch navigator and colonial administrator. He arrived in Cape Town in 1652 and established what became the Dutch Cape Colony of the Dutch East India Company.

Van Schalkwyk, Marthinus (1959–)

Politician and MP. Succeeded De Klerk as leader of the National Party, renamed the New National Party (NNP) when it withdrew from the GNU. He joined the ANC in 2005 when the partnership with the Democratic Party in the form of the Democratic Alliance turned sour, and served minster of tourism in President Mbeki’s cabinet.

Verwoerd, Dr Hendrik Frensch (1901–1966)

Prime minister of South Africa, 1958 to 1966. Minister of native affairs, 1950 to 1958. National Party politician. Widely considered the architect of apartheid, he advocated a system of ‘separate development’. Under his leadership South Africa became a republic on 31 May 1961. Assassinated in Parliament by Dimitri Tsafendas.

Victor Verster Prison

Low-security prison located between Paarl and Franschhoek in the Western Cape. Mandela was transferred there in 1988 from Pollsmoor Prison, and lived in a private house inside the prison compound. There is a statue of Mandela just outside the prison gates. Now named Drakenstein Correctional Centre.

Viljoen, Constand (1933–)

Politician and military commander. Joined the Union Defence Force in 1956 and by 1977 was chief of the army in South Africa. Along with fellow retired army generals, he formed the Afrikaner Volksfront in 1993. Before South Africa’s first democratic elections he was thought to have amassed a force of between 50,000 and 60,000 to prepare for war to stop the democratic transition. In March 1994 he led a military effort to protect the head of the Bophuthatswana homeland against a popular coup. He then split from the Volksfront and cofounded the Freedom Front of which he became leader. His decision to participate in South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994 is credited with the prevention of loss of life. Retired in 2001 and handed over leadership of the Freedom Front to Pieter Mulder.

Volkstaat Council

In terms of the Accord between the Freedom Front, ANC and National Party, signed only on the eve of the 1994 elections, a council was established in 1994 as a constitutional mechanism to enable proponents of the idea of a Volkstaat to constitutionally pursue the establishment of such a Volkstaat. Its final report, issued in 1999, was handed to the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities established in 2003.


White, mainly Dutch-speaking, farmers, tradesmen and squatters who in the 1830s migrated inland and into Natal from from the British-ruled Cape colony, and established the white republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State. Voortrekkers translates to pioneers.

Waluz, Janusz (1953–)

Convicted of murdering Chris Hani in 1993 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Wessels, Leon (1946–)

Politician. Served as deputy minister of law and order and minister of local government, national housing and manpower in apartheid governments. Elected to parliament in the first democratic election, and acted as deputy chair of the constitutional assembly which drafted the new constitution. In 1999 he was appointed to the South African Human Rights Commission

Williams, Abe

Politician. A leader of the Coloured Labour Party during the apartheid years, he became a minister in the Coloured House of Representative in the tricameral parliament. He became a National Party member and was minister of welfare and population development in the Government of National Party from 1994 until he resigned in 1996 following allegations of corruption which led to his conviction and imprisonment.

World Economic Forum

A Swiss non-profit foundation established in 1971 which is ‘committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas’. Each year it convenes a meeting in Davos that brings together some 2,500 business leaders, international political leaders, economists, celebrities and journalists to discuss pressing issues facing the world. Regional forums are held each year, including in Africa.

Yar-Adua, Shewu (1943–1997)

Military officer, politician and businessman. Chief of Staff under General Obasanjo's military government which handed power to an elected civilian government. Yar-Adua then entered politics and built substantial support in elections until General Abacha seized power in 1993. He was elected as a delegate to a National Constitutional Conference in 1994, but in that year was arrested and sentenced to death by a military tribunal. Although the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, he died in prison in 1997.

Zulu, Bishop Alpheus (1905–1988)

Anglican Bishop of Zululand and Swaziland from 1968 to 1975 and president of the World Council of Churches during the 1960s. He and Chief Albert Luthuli co-founded the Natal Bantu Cane Growers' Association in 1942 and in the same year they both joined the ANC. After retiring as bishop in 1975 he broke with the ANC, over the issue of non-violence, and became National Chairperson of the Inkatha Freedom Party.

Zuma, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa (1942–)

Politician and anti-apartheid activist. Joined the ANC in 1959 and its armed wing, MK, in 1962. Convicted of conspiring to overthrow the apartheid government in 1963 and sentenced to ten years in prison. On his release, he continued to work for the ANC and rose to the position of chief of intelligence. Became a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee in 1977. Returned to South Africa in 1990 after the legalisation of the ANC. After the 1994 election, he served as provincial minister of economic affairs and tourism in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal. Elected deputy president of the ANC in December 1997 and deputy president of South Africa in June 1999. On 14 June 2005, President Mbeki removed Zuma from his post as deputy president due to allegations of corruption and fraud. Sworn in as president of South Africa, May 2009.