Posts Tagged ‘Free Nelson Mandela’

Nelson Mandela’s Birthday

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021

Back in 1988 on the 17th July, the day before Nelson Mandela’s Birthday on the 18th July, I joined thousands of marchers through London demanding he be freed from jail.

Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988 88-7h-66

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela Mandela was born on 18th July 1918, so this was his 70th birthday and he was still in jail, then held in Pollsmoor Prison, near Cape Town, having been removed with other senior ANC members from Robben Island to remove their influence on younger ANC members held there.

Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988 88-7h-55

He was well treated in Pollsmoor and international attempts to end apartheid was increasing, along with secret meetings with the South African Minister of Justice. President Botha had actually offered to release him, if he “unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon”, but Mandela had refused to leave while the African National Congress was still banned.

Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988 88-7h-31

Mandela’s 70th birthday was celebrated around the world, with a televised tribute concert at Wembley Stadium attracting an estimated 200 million viewers.

Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988 88-7j-65

The march in London was a large one, and I wasn’t then a seasoned photographer of protests, though I had taken pictures at a number of smaller events.

Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988 88-7h-34

Because of the size of the event there were a number of feeder marches leading to a rally in Hyde Park. I joined the march coming from Camden and went with it to the rally, where I took some pictures in the crowd but didn’t attempt to cover the speakers, who included the Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu.

Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988 88-7i-43

I took altogether only just over a hundred black and white pictures, of which I’ve now uploaded around a quarter to an album, Free Nelson Mandela – March and Rally – London 1988. You can also click on any of the images in this post to go to a larger version from where you can browse all the pictures that are online.


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1988 Free Mandela march

Friday, October 23rd, 2020
Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988 88-7h-66
Camden Town

Although I first took pictures at protests in the 1970s, I had been taking part in protests since the middle of the 1960s. But I was then a penniless student with no idea about how you could cut costs by developing and printing your own films; I did own a camera, a Halina 35X, but had dropped it in the lake at Versailles and it never worked reliably after that, delivering random but usually very slow shutter speeds from its rusty leaf shutter.

Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988 88-7h-55

Even after I had taken a short photographic course and got a job and could afford a new camera (a cheap Russian Zenith SLR) and had rigged up a temporary darkroom in the kitchen of our flat, I was still going on protests as a protester and took few if any photographs.

Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988 88-7h-31
BBC

Of course there were fewer protests back in the 70s and 80s, or at least it was harder to find out about them in the days before the World Wide Web. There were of course huge events such as the Miners’ Strike, but unless you lived in the mining areas or could travel to them, which didn’t fit with my full-time job you read about most of these after the events were given newspaper coverage if at all. Many other protests related to strikes and union issues were simply impossible to know about unless they concerned your own union.

Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988 88-7i-43

My attendance at protests was largely limited to the big national demonstrations organised by groups I belonged to – such as CND and the Anti-Apartheid movement and a few others that were advertised in advance in the alternative press. Many protests were only advertised by fly-posting on walls mainly in the areas they were to take place in – and there were few if any such postings in the area where I lived.

Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988 88-7j-65

I began to be more a photographer of protests than an actual protester in the 1980s, particularly after a few of my photographs were accepted for an exhibition on protest (and I think one won a prize.) I began to realise that I could make a great contribution to the various causes with a camera than simply marching or attending rallies, and, a little later, began contributing my photographs to a picture library concerned with social issues, and later still providing my services directly to some protest groups.

Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988

As more and more people and groups went on-line things began to change. I found out about more and more protests, at first as groups set up web sites to promote their activities. I’d spend an evening or more a week going through a list of perhaps 20 or thirty different groups and using sites which listed bus and travel diversions and various search engines to find out about events and put them in my diary. Then Google arrived and made searching easier and finally Facebook and I had little time to photograph anything but protests.

Free Nelson Mandela - Birthday March and Rally - London 1988 88-7j-13

The Free Nelson Mandela march in London was on Saturday 17th July 1988, the day before his 70th birthday and two years before he was released from prison. I walked with the protesters taking pictures from Camden Town to Hyde Park, and took a few pictures in the crowds in Hyde Park, but none of the stage and speakers at the rally. You can see more of the pictures in the Flickr album uploaded a couple of days ago. Clicking on any of the pictures above will take you to the larger version in the album.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.