Allan Boesak, Beyers Naude, & Winnie Mandela
1985, South Africa
Allan Boesak, Beyers Naude, & Winnie Mandela

Reverend Allan Boesak, Beyers Naude and Winnie Mandela fought tenaciously to end apartheid in South Africa. In 1981, Boesak was elected chairman of the Alliance of Black Reformed Christians in Southern Africa. During the 1982 World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) meeting in Canada, Boesak introduced a motion requesting that WARC declare apartheid heresy. The Alliance adopted his Declaration on Racism and unanimously elected Boesak as its new president, a position he held until 1989.

In January 1983, through Boesak’s call for a united front against apartheid, the United Democratic Font (UDF) was formed, ultimately becoming the main anti-apartheid group in South Africa. In 1985, he organized a march on Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town to demand the release of Nelson Mandela; for this, Boesak was detained and interrogated.

Beyers Naude was a South African cleric and the leading Afrikaner anti-apartheid activist, who was routinely placed under severe house arrest, monitored by police surveillance, and imprisoned due to his vocal opposition to apartheid. Winnie Mandela emerged as an anti-apartheid activist during her husband’s imprisonment, beginning in 1963. She too was subjected to house arrest, placed under surveillance and in solitary confinement, and tortured for her political actions. Despite continued legal persecution and excommunication from their communities and churches, Boesak, Beyers, and Mandela continued their activism until the fall of apartheid and the introduction of democracy in South Africa in 1994.