MAKING A MESSIAH
Nelson Mandela's career in clandestine insurgent politics was brief. On 21 March 1960, in Sharpeville, Vereeniging, 30 policemen fired into a crowd of 5,000 killing at least 69 and wounding nearly 200. The crowd had been summoned by the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), the African National Congress's (ANC's) new rival formed by Africanist' dissenters led by Robert Sobukwe. They contended that the ANC had been deradicalised and deracinated by its co-operation with Communists, white democrats, and Indian Gandhists. From January 1960 the PAC had proposed a militant offensive to the pass laws as an alternative to the ANC's (relatively sedate) anti-pass campaign, urging its supporters to surrender themselves without passes outside police stations. Believing that rhetorical emphasis on race pride was by itself sufficient to evoke a large following, the PAC undertook little systematic preparation. Its branches were concentrated around the steel-making centre of Vereeniging and in the African townships of Cape Town. In Sharpeville, high rents, unemployment among school drop-outs, and authoritarian officials generated angry discontent especially among young people. The ANC was weak in Sharpeville and PAC activists constructed a strong network. In Cape Town, the other centre where the PAC enjoyed a significant following, the new organisation constituted its base among squatters and migrant workers, the principal targets of fiercely applied influx control intended by the government to reduce to a minimum the African presence in the western Cape.
Most of the top ANC leaders, including Mandela, were at the Treason Trial hearings in Pretoria on the day of the massacre. Mandela spent the night of 21 March at Joe Slovo's house, together with Walter Sisulu and other ANC officials, discussing how the