South Africa battle chronicled

Looking at earth-shaking political upheavals through an “independent lens” almost always is instructive to viewers.

That’s where an ongoing Public Broadcasting Service series comes in. “Independent Lens” is going to take a look at one of the world’s most heroic battles, the fight to end apartheid in South Africa. “Independent Lens” will broadcast two segments of “Have You Heard from Johannesburg?” at 11 p.m. Sunday and again at 9 p.m. Monday. The program, to be shown both nights on KACV-TV, is the work of independent documentary filmmakers.

It will examine the grassroots battle in South Africa that, by 1990, culminated in the release of Nelson Mandela from 27 years of imprisonment at Robbin Island. His crime? Fighting to win freedom and equality for blacks in the country he eventually was elected to lead as its president.

Mandela has come to represent the courage of the campaign to end apartheid, which established separate societies in South Africa. White South Africans had all the rights of citizenship; black South Africans had none of them. The whites represented a minority of residents, but held all the power. The blacks comprised the vast majority of residents, but had no authority, no say in how the country should be governed.

“Have You Heard from Johannesburg” walks us back through that struggle.

Mandela has gone on to become one of the world’s most esteemed elder statesman. After symbolizing his country’s fight to end apartheid, he remade South Africa’s government by becoming its first black president. Mandela is an old man now and in frail health. His legacy lives on in a nation that granted full citizenship to its majority population.

“Independent Lens” tells the story of those who build the foundation on which South Africa stands.

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