On 21 March 1960, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe led a mass defiance of South Africa’s pass laws. He urged blacks to go to the nearest police station and demand arrest. Police opened fire on a peaceful crowd in the township of Sharpeville, and killed 68 people. The protest changed the course of South Africa’s history. Afrikaner rule stiffened and black resistance went underground. International opinion hardened against apartheid. Sobukwe, leader of the Pan-Africanist Congress, was jailed for three years for incitement. At the end of his sentence the government, fearful of his power, rushed through the ‘Sobukwe Clause’ to keep him in prison without trial. For the next six years, Sobukwe was kept in solitary confinement on Robben Island, the infamous apartheid prison near Cape Town. On his release, Sobukwe was banished to the town of Kimberley with very severe restrictions on his freedom. He died there nine years later, in February 1978. This title is the story of this South African hero – the lonely prisoner on Robben Island. It is also the story of the friendship between Robert Sobukwe and Benjamin Pogrund whose joint experiences and debates chart the course of a tyrannous regime and the growth of black resistance.
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