France handed over digitized recordings of the ‘Rivonia Trial’ to South Africa during an official visit by President Jacob Zuma to Paris on Monday.
The Rivonia Trial, one of the most significant political trials in South African history, led to a life sentence for former South African leader Nelson Mandela. Mandela was sent to Robben Island where he spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.
“I would like to thank President Hollande for the digitisation of Rivonia Trial, which will safeguard an invaluable part of South African history for generations to come,” Zuma said on receipt of the recordings.
I would like to thank President Hollande for the digitisation of Rivonia Trial, which will safeguard an invaluable part of South African history for generations to come.
There will also be a ceremonial handing over of the digitised Rivonia Trial Dictabelts (recording) to President Zuma. #DIRCObriefing— DIRCO South Africa (@DIRCO_ZA) July 4, 2016
The deteriorating audio recordings of the 1963-1964 court case were restored by France’s National Audiovisual Institute (INA).
It was during the trial that Mandela made a speech that electrified the world and became the manifesto of the anti-apartheid movement.
Mandela in his defense is quoted to have said: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.”
“It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But, my lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
On February 11, 1990, Mandela was released from prison, he went on to lead political negotiations that paved the way for the first democratic elections in 1994. He was subsequently elected the country’s first black president.
Incidentally, the government of South Africa, mark every July as Nelson Mandela month. The UN also celebrates the ideals and principles of the global statesman on July 18 every year.