As the world marks the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president and a beloved symbol of the country's struggle to end apartheid, longtime South African activist Trevor Ngwane takes Democracy Now! on a tour of the township of Soweto.
Speaking outside of Mandela's former home, Ngwane recalls when the ANC leader was first captured, leading to a 27-year imprisonment before his release in 1990. Ngwane was active in the struggle against apartheid that culminated in Mandela's 1994 election and today remains a leading South African voice for human rights.
"The fact that Mandela lived here is quite significant, because, remember, Mandela is a country boy, actually, you know, and in fact he's a chief. Yeah, so he came here, you know, to work in the mines, and then he got a job here. Then he studied part-time until he got his law degree. But now he imbibed the township spirit. He became an urban man. He got the new politics. And he met people like Walter Sisulu. Walter Sisulu lived somewhere that side, not far, yeah. And then he joined the ANC here--although I think he must have joined ANC when he was still in Fort Hare. But he caught the urban-based ANC here, and then also worked with the Communist Party, although at first he was very anti-communist."