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I had some idea that there were negotiations going on for my release and I had some sense that somehow my daughter was involved. In 1985 the regime offered all political prisoners, including the...
Author: Denis Goldberg
After the escape of Tim, Stephen and Alex we who remained behind bore the consequences. The prison was rebuilt and we politicals were held in another prison known as Beverley Hills, gallows’ humour...
Author: Denis Goldberg
During the past week, the entire country has been united in mourning the fall of a giant of our struggle. Messages of condolences have come from all over the world, giving a comprehensive account of...
Author: Jacob Zuma
Publication date: 8 September, 2001
Mr President, Honourable Members of the Security Council We are honoured by the opportunity of returning to the Security Council to report to your honourable selves and our esteemed world body on...
Author: Nelson Mandela
Publication date: 29 September, 2000
Comrade Chairperson, Members of the NEC, Comrades delegates, Distinguished veterans, Your Excellencies, Members of the diplomatic corps and guests, Members of the media: I would like to...
Author: Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki
Publication date: 12 July 2000
Author: Yuxi Wang
Publication date: 2018
In June 1978 two new prisoners joined us in the Pretoria Security Prison. They had not long before completed their studies. Tim Jenkin, blonde, with glasses and very thin; Stephen Lee, brown hair,...
Author: Denis Goldberg
To cover 22 years of imprisonment in chronological order is too difficult - and I think it would be boring to read about that life within a life in such detail. I have selected some themes which I...
Author: Denis Goldberg
It is not easy to write about prison. When I was freed after 22 years I had spent 45 per cent of my life inside the walls. Now I have been outside the prison again longer than I was behind the walls...
Author: Denis Goldberg
The judge Is dressed in red and white the assessors in black and white the prosecutor in a hostage smile and I in the borrowed robes of my grandmother’s wisdom corn she said cannot expect justice...
Author: Denis Goldberg
On 11 July 1963 I was sitting in the living-room of theLiliesleaf farm-house reading Robert Junk’s Brighter than a Thousand Suns, the story of the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August...
Author: Denis Goldberg
In the early 1960s, following the sharpeville massacre and the state of emergency, there were more than 100 sabotage attacks across the country. The government, in response, introduced two savage new...
Author: Denis Goldberg
After the State of Emergency in 1960, when so many of us were locked up for four or five months in detention, there was a widespread feeling that we were moving towards a point where we would have to...
Author: Denis Goldberg
Esmé was as active as I was and we enjoyed working together. One of our early activities was helping to organise non-racial youth camps over the Easter weekends of 1954 and 1957. We felt it important...
Author: Denis Goldberg
I was a fresh-faced 16-year-old when I started my studies in 1950 at the University of Cape Town. In the long summer holiday between school and university I worked on a fruit farm some 85 miles from...
Author: Denis Goldberg
“Mum, please hold my poetry book. Help me memorise my lines.” “What’s it called?” she asked. “Hiawatha.” “Oh, then just say it,” she said, her hands deep in soapy washing-up water. “But, Mum, you’ve...
Author: Denis Goldberg

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Art is an act of resistance. It asserts our agency. Omar Badsha has identified not only as an artist, but an activist for most of his life. Born in 1945, he grew up under the oppression of apartheid, facing injustice on a daily basis. He was harassed, his work was banned, and his movement was restricted. But Badsha fought back with photography. Today his work as a historian is ensuring that the truth of our past, and our future, remains free.     

Badsha discovered his love of politics through his father, being raised in a house where activists came to meet. He had dreams of studying art abroad, but in 1965 was denied a passport by the government. Nevertheless, he continued to create, and that same year one of his woodcuts won the first of many awards. As a man well known for his doggedness, veracity, and humanity, Badsha refused to exhibit his drawings and paintings in segregated galleries. When he joined the trade union movement he turned his eye to photography. Badsha’s first book of photographs, Letter to Farzanah, was banned after release. Now freely accessible, his book depicts the lives of South African children of all races and backgrounds during apartheid. “We came out of a society where our history was actually erased, totally, not recognised,” he says. “But we turned it around during the anti-apartheid struggle.”

Badsha’s extensive photographic work has been exhibited globally, and it’s his emotive images of ordinary people that illustrate the heart behind his activism. In the 1990s, Badsha was finally given his first passport. It was only valid for three months, but the freedom he fought for came soon after as South Africa held its first democratic elections on 27 April 1994. He then founded South African History Online, a non-profit project dedicated to preserving an open history of our country. It’s the largest website of its kind in Africa, and has a virtual classroom to help teach children. In 2017, Badsha was awarded an honorary doctorate by Stellenbosch University. His work serves as a reminder that the pain of our past is not to be forgotten. Instead, it is the key to our future, and our freedom.

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