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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 69 people.
The protest changed the course of South Africa’s history. Afrikaner rule stiffened and black resistance went underground. 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 the so-called ‘Sobukwe Clause’ through Parliament, to keep him in prison without a trial. For the next six years, Sobukwe was kept in solitary confinement on Robben Island.
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 book 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.