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The
magnificent response to the call of the National Action Council for a three day
strike and the wonderful work done by our organisers and field workers
throughout the country proves once again that no power on earth can stop an
oppressed people determined to win their freedom. In the face of unprecedented
intimidation by the government and employers and of blatant falsehoods and
distortions by the press, immediately before and during the strike, the freedom
loving people of South Africa gave massive and solid support to the historic
and challenging resolutions of the Pietermaritzburg Conference.

Factory and
office workers, businessmen in town and country, students in university
colleges, in primary and secondary schools, inspired by genuine patriotism and
threatened with loss of employment, cancellation of business licences and the
ruin of school careers, rose to the occasion and recorded in emphatic tones
their opposition to a White republic forcibly imposed on us by a minority. In
the light of the formidable array of hostile forces that stood against us, and
the difficult and dangerous conditions under which we worked, the results were
most inspiring. I am confident that if we work harder and more systematically,
the Nationalist government will not survive for long. No organisation in the
world could have withstood and survived the full-scale and massive bombardment
directed against us by the government during the last month.

In the
history of our country no political campaign has ever merited the serious attention
and respect which the Nationalist government gave us. When a government seeks
to suppress a peaceful demonstration of an unarmed people by mobilising the
entire resources of the State, military and otherwise, it concedes powerful
mass support for such a demonstration. Could there be any other evidence to
prove that we have become a power to be reckoned with and the strongest
opposition to the government? Who can deny the plain fact that ever since the
end of last month the issue that dominated South African politics was not the
republican celebrations, but our plans for a general strike?

Today is
26 June, a day known throughout the length and breadth of our country as
Freedom Day. On this memorable day, nine years ago, eight thousand five hundred
of our dedicated freedom fighters struck a mighty blow against the repressive
colour policies of the government. Their matchless courage won them the praise
and affection of millions of people here and abroad. Since then we have had
many stirring campaigns on this date and it has been observed by hundreds of
thousands of our people as a day of dedication. It is fit and proper that on
this historic day I should speak to you and announce fresh plans for the
opening of the second phase in the fight against the Verwoerd republic, and for
a National Convention.

You will
remember that the Pietermaritzburg Resolutions warned that if the government
did not call a National Convention before the end of May, 1961, Africans,
Coloureds, Indians and European democrats would be asked not to collaborate
with the republic or any government based on force. On several occasions since
then the National Action Council explained that the last strike marked the
beginning of a relentless mass struggle for the defeat of the Nationalist
government, and for a sovereign multi-racial convention. We stressed that the
strike would be followed by other forms of mass pressure to force the race
maniacs who govern our beloved country to make way for a democratic government
of the people, by the people and for the people. A full-scale and countrywide
campaign of non-co-operation with the government will be launched immediately.
The precise form of the contemplated action, its scope and dimensions and
duration will be announced to you at the appropriate time.

Tuesday 14 June 2011 13:30

Why should we continue enriching those who steal the products of our sweat and blood? Those who exploit us and refuse us the right to organise trade unions?

At the
present moment it is sufficient to say that we plan to make government
impossible. Those who are voteless cannot be expected to continue paying taxes
to a government which is not responsible to them. People who live in poverty
and starvation cannot be expected to pay exorbitant house rents to the
government and local authorities. We furnish the sinews of agriculture and
industry. We produce the work of the gold mines, the diamonds and the coal, of
the farms and industry, in return for miserable wages.

Why should we continue
enriching those who steal the products of our sweat and blood? Those who
exploit us and refuse us the right to organise trade unions? Those who side
with the government when we stage peaceful demonstrations to assert our claims
and aspirations? How can Africans serve on School Boards and Committees which
are part of Bantu Education, a sinister scheme of the Nationalist government to
deprive the African people of real education in return for tribal education?
Can Africans be expected to be content with serving on Advisory Boards and
Bantu Authorities when the demand all over the continent of Africa is for
national independence and self-government? Is it not an affront to the African
people that the government should now seek to extend Bantu Authorities to the
cities, when people in the rural areas have refused to accept the same system
and fought against it tooth and nail? Which African does not burn with
indignation when thousands of our people are sent to gaol every month under the
cruel pass laws? Why should we continue carrying these badges of slavery?
Non-collaboration is a dynamic weapon.

We must refuse. We must use it to send
this government to the grave. It must be used vigorously and without delay. The
entire resources of the Black people must be mobilised to withdraw all
co-operation with the Nationalist government. Various forms of industrial and
economic action will be employed to undermine the already tottering economy of
the country. We will call upon the international bodies to expel South Africa
and upon nations of the world to sever economic and diplomatic relations with
the country.

I am
informed that a warrant for my arrest has been issued, and that the police are
looking for me. The National Action Council has given full and serious
consideration to this question, and has sought the advice of many trusted
friends and bodies and they have advised me not to surrender myself. I have
accepted this advice, and will not give myself up to a government I do not recognise.
Any serious politician will realise that under present-day conditions in this
country, to seek for cheap martyrdom by handing myself to the police is naive
and criminal. We have an important programme before us and it is important to
carry it out very seriously and without delay.
I have
chosen this latter course, which is more difficult and which entails more risk
and hardship than sitting in gaol. I have had to separate myself from my dear
wife and children, from my mother and sisters, to live as an outlaw in my own
land. I have had to close my business, to abandon my profession, and live in
poverty and misery, as many of my people are doing. I will continue to act as
the spokesman of the National Action Council during the phase that is unfolding
and in the tough struggles that lie ahead. I shall fight the government side by
side with you, inch by inch, and mile by mile, until victory is won. What are
you going to do? Will you come along with us, or are you going to co-operate
with the government in its efforts to suppress the claims and aspirations of
your own people? Or are you going to remain silent and neutral in a matter of
life and death to my people, to our people? For my own part I have made my
choice. I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through
hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my
life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.

Six months
after going underground, Mandela was asked by the ANC to leave South Africa
temporarily to attend the Conference of the Pan African Freedom Movement of
East and Central Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He left the country secretly
and therefore, according to South African law, illegally.
1. This statement was issued by Nelson Mandela from inside South Africa,
explaining his decision, in accordance with the advice of the National Action
Council, to carry on his political work underground. Published by the ANC in
London