The Dame Nita Barrow-Nelson Mandela Connection
BU is not the author.
Dame Nita Barrow and the Commonwealth Group of Eminent Persons who visited Nelson Mandela while he was in Pollsmoor Prison, South Africa, in 1986. He was transferred from Robben Island four years earlier, after serving 18 years there.
Barbadian Dame Ruth Nita Barrow (third from left) was the sole female of the high-level, eight-member Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group that visited South Africa in 1986. While there, the Group called on Nelson Mandela in Pollsmoor Prison where he was being held after serving 18 of his overall 27 years in detention on Robben Island. After six years at Pollsmoor, Mandela spent another three years at the Victor Verster lock-up before he was eventually freed in 1990.
During that 1986 mission, Dame Nita Barrow successfully thwarted South Africa’s military confines, by entering the restricted area of the Alexandria township, disguised in African garb and head-dress to resemble one of the women in the township. There, she held open and frank discussions with the residents, and got a first-hand account of conditions in the suburbs and the forthright views of the people. When South African government officials realized that she had given them the slip, they registered their disapproval and concerns to the Group.
After Mandela’s release from prison, Dame Nita Barrow, who went on to become Barbados’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations (1986-1990) and Governor General of Barbados (1990-1995) maintained regular contact with him until her death in 1995.