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Mandela: white roadblocks unify blacks

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Do not be misled by the bursting of bombs. World attention may be focused on rising sabotage sponsored by a group outside South Africa, but the real initiative in black politics is swinging back to black movements based inside this country.

This assessment comes from Winnie Mandela, one of South Africa's most prominent black activists.

Mrs. Mandela is a stalwart supporter of the aims of the African National Congress (ANC), the group that is the source of rising sabotage here. But she is delighted with the trend toward strengthened black politics by other groups in the country.

She thinks a new phase of internal black activism is dawning that is carrying on in the tradition of the ANC. She sees this development as complimentary, rather than at odds with whatever tactics the outlawed ANC is using from the outside.

But Mrs. Mandela also believes some of the emerging black activists are naive. It is naive for proponents of the resurgent ''black consciousness'' movement to exclude whites since one cannot simply wish away the whites in South Africa, she feels. Such a view is extremist, she thinks. To her, the nonracialism long preached by the ANC is the only answer.

Mrs. Mandela's husband, ANC leader Nelson Mandela, is serving a life sentence for attempting to overthrow the government.

Every attempt has been made to send Mrs. Mandela into political oblivion, too. She has been banned for 22 years, and exiled for the last seven here in this remote farm town where blacks live out of sight at the end of a dirt road, emerging only to work for the white community.

Mrs. Mandela's banning order prevents her from being quoted, but the views outlined here come from a lengthy interview with her and from conversations with those close to her.

Friends say Mrs. Mandela does not lament about her life far away from Soweto, the black township near Johannesburg where she was a key political leader. A trained social worker, she is immersed in community work here in Brandfort. She is organizing a mobile clinic for first aid, and helping to set up soup kitchens for hungry blacks, hard-hit by severe drought.

Rather than taking Mrs. Mandela off the political map, the government has in fact put tiny Brandfort on the road map of influential visitors to this country. In addition, up to 20 letters a day arrive pledging support from all corners of the world.


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