As noted already in the first two articles in this series on South Africa, the brutalisation of Africans by outsiders is a blot on invaders, settlers and slave traders claiming to belong to so-called higher civilizations. The apartheid regime of South Africa did all it could to break the will and determination of the people of South Africa to be free and equal in an inclusive, secular democracy. Swedish television showed a six-series film-documentary on the life of Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders, which included people of all so-called races and religions. Although treatment of ANC leaders was despicable, and they were humiliated and brutalised every day. Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmad Kathrada and several other ANC leaders spent long years in prison after the court found them guilty of conspiracy to overthrow the government. He was in jail for 27 years during 1962-1990, from the age of 46 to 72 continuously. 17 years were spent on Robben Island off Cape Town. He was later brought to prisons on the mainland.Mandela and his comrades were meted out worse treatment than hardened criminals. They were forced to perform hard labour, such as breaking stone all day long with small hammers under a sweltering sun. Recurring physical attacks on them took place as well. One of the younger leaders, Mike Biko, was tortured to death in prison. Even in such conditions, Mandela maintained his dignity and composure.Mandela spent the last few years of his incarceration in a jail on the outskirts of Cape Town. In his book, Walking to Freedom, he mentions how his every move was under surveillance and he had practically no privacy. Simultaneously, the apartheid regime set in motion the process of protracted negotiations with Mandela. The last president of the apartheid regime, FW de Klerk met Mandela several times trying to convince him to renounce armed struggle before a political solution could be found to South Africa’s future. Mandela refused steadfastly to comply, on grounds that if the regime continued to base its power and authority on totalitarian, discriminatory and brutal practices, armed struggle could not be given up. He assured De Klerk that he did not believe in revenge or majoritarian black rule. South Africa will be a democratic state and property would not be confiscated arbitrarily. He explained that without free and fair elections, no peaceful transition to democratic rule was possible.Mandela held the office of president for four years and then stepped down in 1998. Subsequent elected governments could not maintain the ideals of the freedom movement and unfortunately, the government of Jacob Zuma, an ANC activist of Zulu extraction indulged in massive corruption and nepotismDe Klerk used typically divisive tactics of splitting the resistance movement led by ANC. His government incited clashes between ANC and the Zulu separatist organisation, Inkatha, which wanted to claim a separate state for the Zulu people. However, ANC and Mandela refused to accept In katha as representative of the South African masses, including that of the large Zulu-speaking population. Meanwhile, world opinion increasingly turned against apartheid, and strong voices of condemnation began to emanate even from the corridors of power in Washington DC and London, which in the past had maintained a loud silence because for them the ANC was a Communist organisation. That absurd position became untenable, because many churches supported ANC and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of Cape Town became an outspoken critic of apartheid and supported the ANC’s struggle for human rights and democracy.As a result, the international isolation of the apartheid regime accentuated increasingly. Internally the racist government failed to stifle and crush internal defiance by South Africans. De Klerk finally agreed to remove the ban on ANC in 1990.In 1993, Mandela and de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.In 1994,fair and free elections were held based on universal adult franchise. The people gave ANC a thundering 62 percent majority mandate to form the government. Mandela became the first non-white president of democratic South Africa. Thus, after 500 years the last bastion of European colonialism and racist rule fell in the closing decade of the twentieth century.Mandela instituted the national reconciliation process so that people could confess to their mistakes, ask for forgiveness and go on forward as equal citizens of South Africa without any reference to religion, race or tribe. The South African Constitution became the most progressive, inclusive and universal democracy created by humankind. Mandela held the office of president for four years and then stepped down in 1998. Subsequent elected governments could not maintain the ideals of the freedom movement and unfortunately, the government of Jacob Zuma, an ANC activist of Zulu extraction indulged in massive corruption and nepotism. Zuma is currently in detention, facing 18 charges of corruption, including more than 700 counts of fraud and money laundering. The Gupta family, of Indian origin is implicated in the corruption charges. More people are under trial.I talked at length to a young, very bright South African university student, Anelisiwe Simamkele Buru in Port Elizabeth during our holiday there in June 2018. She confirmed that corruption was rampant during Zuma’s term in office and things were very bad. As a result, the South African economy was in very bad shape. The unemployment rate for young black men was 50 percent. It has resulted in massive criminality and drug offenses.It reminded me of how freedom from colonial and racist rule does not always result in that liberation for which people give up their lives, properties and careers. Rather, so very often native rule degenerates because of incompetence and corruption. The guides during our holiday in South Africa were whites and bus drivers black. They agreed that hospitals were no longer functioning properly, and educational standards remained unsatisfactory.However, a return to the oppression of apartheid was out of the question. South Africa had turned the corner irreversibly and people were hopeful that the new government of President Cyril Ramaphosa would do better. Ramaphosa was Mandela’s first choice as his successor but ANC preferred Thabo Mbeki. Now, Ramaphosa, a successful businessman, is finally president. It remains to be seen how the country with the world’s most enlightened constitution — secular, democratic, inclusive, gender sexual-orientation neutral will fare in the future. Nelson Mandela died on December 5, 2013 at the ripe old age of 95.The writer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; Visiting Professor Government College University; and, Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He has written a number of books and won many awards, he can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, August 27th 2018.