A Life for Freedom: The Mission to End Racial Injustice in South Africa

A Life for Freedom: The Mission to End Racial Injustice in South Africa


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From June 1963 to October 1964, ten antiapartheid activists were tried at South Africa's Pretoria Supreme Court. Standing among the accused with Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, and Walter Sisulu was Denis Goldberg. Charged under the Sabotage and Suppression of Communism Acts for "campaigning to overthrow the government by violent revolution," Goldberg was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. The only white man convicted during the infamous Rivonia trial, he played a historic role in the struggle for justice in South Africa.

In this remarkable autobiography, Goldberg discusses growing up acutely aware of the injustice permeating his homeland. He joined the South African Communist Party and helped found the Congress of Democrats. It was his role as an officer in the armed underground wing of the African National Congress (ANC), however, that led to his life sentence — the outcome of which was a staggering twenty-two years behind bars. While he was incarcerated, the racist dogma of apartheid imposed complete separation from his black comrades and colleagues, a segregation that denied him both the companionship and the counsel of his fellow accused.

Recounted with humor and humility, Goldberg's story not only provides a sweeping overview of life in South Africa both during and after apartheid, but also illuminates the experiences of the activists and oppressors whose fates were bound together.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813166469
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 03/18/2016
Pages: 504
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Denis Goldberg is founder of the Community H.E.A.R.T. development fund, which is based in Britain and Germany and supports health and education projects in South Africa. From 2002 to 2006, he served as special adviser to the minister of Water Affairs and Forestry in South Africa. He has received numerous awards from several countries, including the Order of Luthuli in 2009, in recognition of his work against apartheid.

Table of Contents

Foreword Z. Pallo Jordan vii

Preface xi

1 The Mission: Break Down the Walls 1

2 Respect for All: Childhood in Cape Town, 1933-1949 10

3 University 26

4 Political Activity, 1953-1964 39

5 Last Resort: Armed Resistance 63

6 Underground in Johannesburg: May-July 1963 75

7 Arrest at Liliesleaf 82

8 The Rivonia Trial 98

9 Emotional Desert: Prison, 1963-1985 118

10 Problems of Imprisonment 144

11 The Escape 170

12 More about Prison 189

13 A Negotiated Release, 1985 200

14 Out of Prison: Life Number 6; Born 28 February 1985 as a Free Person 218

15 New Activist: London-Lusaka-Dar es Salaam 238

16 The World Is My Oyster: Life Number 7, 1985-1994 258

17 T-Shirts, Music, and More Solidarity 300

18 Training in Asia: Commonwealth Secretariat Study Program 316

19 Affairs of the Heart and Community H.E.A.R.T.: Life Number 8 324

20 Life Number 9, 2002-2014 343

21 Last Thoughts-For Now: 2015 366

Appendix 1 Torture and the Future 387

Appendix 2 Time Line of South African History 399

Appendix 3 The Freedom Charter 411

Acknowledgments 417

Notes 419

Index 425

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