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On October 20, 1985, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Lyford Cay, former Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling led the charge as chairman of the meeting and persuaded the group to agree to what is known as the Nassau Accord, which outlined a renewed approach to increasing pressure and sanctions on South Africa’s then minority apartheid government.
The agreement set off a chain of events that eventually led to the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 and the first free democratic elections in South Africa four years later, where Nelson Mandela was elected as president.
“South Africa remains appreciative for the contribution of not only Sir Lynden but that of countless other Bahamians who took a stand during those critical years,” said Honorary Consul (Designate) of South Africa to The Bahamas Werner Gruner, in a statement highlighting the 30th anniversary of the Nassau Accord, which called on the government of South Africa to dismantle its apartheid policy, enter into negotiations with the country's black majority and end its occupation of Namibia.
“There is no doubt that a robust alliance and bond existed between Mandela and Sir Lynden, which was reinforced through Mandela’s two visits to The Bahamas, after his release from prison, where amongst other things he spoke at The College of The Bahamas and attended Junkanoo. Many Bahamians can still reminisce their warm encounters with Mandela during that time. As a result, a strong friendship continues to exist between the people of South Africa and the people of The Bahamas,” Gruner noted.
In 1948, the National Party (NP) of South Africa enforced a system of racial segregation, which became known as "apartheid", an Afrikaans word meaning "the state of being apart". Under apartheid, the movements and rights of black and other ethnic groups were brutally curtailed and Afrikaner minority rule was maintained.
After this system was established in 1948, Nelson Mandela rose to prominence in the African National Congress' (ANC) 1952 anti-apartheid defiance campaign. In the years following, he was often arrested for seditious activities working as a lawyer until in 1962 when he was finally convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state and sentenced to life imprisonment in the famous Rivonia Trial.
“Mandela served 27 years in prison. It was during this time in prison that a tiny archipelago of islands, separated by 7,500 miles of ocean and under the leadership of the late Rt. Hon. Sir Lynden Pindling, decided to take action,” noted Gruner.
As a South African residing in The Bahamas, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank this nation for the friendship it has bestowed upon me. I might not have personally known Sir Lynden Pindling but I did have the honor to know Dr. Myles Munroe who contributed pointedly towards my life. I still stand in awe when I think of the impact these individuals had not only on my life, but on the lives of millions of South Africans,” Gruner stated.
“We value The Commonwealth of The Bahamas and say to its people that we are honored to call you true friends. May our relations continue to prosper, and strengthen, and may our nations continue to produce men and women who become beacons of hope to those who face oppression.”