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India's contribution to the struggle against apartheid has been highly praised by the leaders of the freedom movement in South Africa. Nelson Mandela, the outstanding leader of that movement, paid a handsome tribute to India and its leaders in a letter smuggled out of Robben island prison in 1980. Great appreciation has also been expressed by African leaders for the role of India since 1946 in promoting international support for the freedom struggle in South Africa, and its many actions and initiatives in solidarity with the oppressed people of that country.
While such expressions of appreciation are most gratifying, it must be emphasised that the contribution by the Government and people of India to the freedom movement in South Africa is more than an act of solidarity. It has deep roots in India's own struggle for freedom and dignity.The humiliations and indignities to which the people of Indian origin were subjected in South Africa, and the struggle for their human dignity led by Mahatma Gandhi, have had a great influence on the Indian national movement. Under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, it had developed an international outlook, espousing uncompromising opposition to colonialism and racism and recognising that India's own freedom was meaningless unless all the peoples under colonial and racist domination were free. It felt a particular affinity with the freedom movements in South Africa and other African countries.
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