The Guardian

'I did it for freedom' – Nelson Mandela's quiet comrade

Robben Island survivor Andrew Mlangeni, 93, in London for tribute event, remains an ANC stalwart
Andrew Mlangeni with Meghan Markle during their visit to the Nelson Mandela centenary exhibition on Tuesday. Photograph: Arthur Edwards/AFP/Getty Images

Drawing on his second cigarette within half an hour, Andrew Mlangeni recalls how tobacco was hard to obtain in prison on Robben Island.

“I try to stop, but it takes willpower,” the 93-year-old said.

Speaking among the celebrations for Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday in the quiet residence of the South African ambassador in Kensington, the one quality Mlangeni does not lack is willpower. Convicted of high treason in the notorious in 1964 along with Mandela, he spent 26 years and four months in jail from 1963 to 1989. One of the first to be sent to China by the ANC for military training in, one of the two surviving members of the trial.

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