The father figure of black South African nationalism, Nelson Mandela, spent his 60th birthday in prison on Tuesday (18 July).
CU Zeni Mandela being interviewed (2 shots)
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ. 1: REPORTER: "When did you last see your father?"
MANDELA: "I last had a visit over Easter. But the last contact I ever had with my father was when I was two years old and that was in 1962 -- quite a long time ago. I don't really remember what he looks like you know and since then we've never had a proper family life, no father and my mother has been bringing us up, very difficult."
REPORTER: "He has been imprisoned on Robben Island..."
MANDELA: "...since 1962..."
REPORTER: "And you have been allowed to visit him since, which was last Easter?"
REPORTER: "A contact visit, what is contact visit?"
MANDELA: "A contact visit is a visit where you can actually touch him, you know, and see him and just walk about the room with him. And I was with my baby you know, and he held her very tightly and he was playing with her all the time -- a thing that's never happened to him before. I mean that was the first contact visit he had since I was there with his family -- the only contact visit are with....his lawyers or attorneys or something you know or when the doctor comes to see him, that's all."
REPORTER: "And was this the first contact visit for you mother to see him or has she been able to see him before?"
MANDELA: "She's never ever had a contact visit with my father, never, they wouldn't allow it."
REPORTER: "I believe that many of the prisoners on Robben Island are made to work in the limestone quarry, what does your father have to work at on the island?"
MANDELA: "I wouldn't know about that because we are not allowed to discuss such things, you know, when you got visiting. They only keep the visits up to family discussions. No political discussions, nothing of what you do on the island is supposed to be discussed. All we know is that he's studying law and he has a little garden of his own, you know, where he plants some tomatoes, vegetables etc."
REPORTER: "Were you able to see the room in which he lives?"
MANDELA: "No, not allowed to see that."
REPORTER: "Where does the visit take place?"
MANDELA: "There's a special visiting room on the island and we go in there -- we are escorted by four policemen, two at his side and two at our side and now with the new regulations we speak to him through a telephone, you know, before we could just speak to him, but now we have to speak through a telephone and whilst we are speaking there's somebody with another telephone who is listening in to the conversation, you know."
According to the London Times newspaper Nelson Mandela remains a symbol of black resistance and inspiration for black hopes despite his years in prison. During the 1950's he led a campaign of defiance against the white authorities and went "underground" before his arrest in 1962. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and helped to found its militant Youth League. In June 196 he and other ANC leaders decided to set up Umkonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) to carry out acts of sabotage against public buildings. In 1964, while serving a five-year prison sentence for inciting strikes and leaving South Africa without a permit, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for sabotage. In South Africa there is no remission or parole for political prisoners.
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Background: The father figure of black South African nationalism, Nelson Mandela, spent his 60th birthday in prison on Tuesday (18 July). For the past 14 years he has been incarcerated on Robben Island -- South Africa's notorious jail reserved for black male offenders, serving a life sentence for sabotage. Elsewhere his birthday is being commemorated in a variety of ways. Speeches and special meetings plus the despatch of 10,000 birthday cards in London, an African National Congress public meeting in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and in the small town of Brandfort, South Africa, Mr. Mandela's wife Winnie, his two daughters and baby grand-daughter observed a day of prayer and fasting. Earlier one of the daughters, Zeni, spoke from Mbabane, Swaziland about her father's life in prison.