It has become fashionable to accord and heap all manner of praises, eulogies and felicitations on FW de Klerk for the so-called emancipation of our people with the unbanning of political parties and the release of political prisoners on February 2 1990.

De Klerk has earned international acclaim and was bestowed with the much- coveted Noble Peace Prize.

Twenty years later he still receives unending accolades for the "sterling role" he played in freeing Africans from bondage.

I wish to argue that we owe De Klerk nothing. African people earned their freedom themselves and due regard, esteem and glory belong to them and to the many maimed and injured, to the countless who are now unknown and unremembered.

The catalogue of the apartheid regime's monstrous activities exceeded the atrociously bestial level of psychopaths, bandits and war criminals.

De Klerk's so-called historical announcement was an act of conceding defeat.

The liberation of Mozambique left the apartheid regime shell-shocked since it meant new adversarial neighbours.

The liberation of Zimbabwe ushered into power Zanu with the installation of a new flag and the reimposition of the ancient name of Zimbabwe.

In a desperate attempt to forestall the inevitable, the apartheid regime sponsored insurgency and bandits like Renamo and Unita, but their efforts proved futile.

Attempts to repel and extirpate Cuban forces from Angola proved futile. In the airspace of Angola the South African airpower of Impala, Mirage and Cheestas was a poor match for the ferocious might of the Cuban MiG23.

The buoyant and gallant forces of Umkhonto weSizwe and Cubans witnessed the desperate fleeing of apartheid soldiers with tails behind their shaking legs.

Apartheid power surrendered and an armistice resulted in the UN-sponsored Resolution 435, which paved the way for the independence of Namibia.

The apartheid regime was faced with immense challenges on virtually all fronts. On the home-front it faced incessant labour unrest under the aegis of Cosatu and Nactu. Civil disobedience crippled the local government sector since the Vaal 1984 rent uprising.

International pressure was mounting with the impending hanging of the Sharpeville Six. Schools became battlefields, with clashes between students led by Cosas and the soldiers.

Azapo's Muntu Myeza, Thami Mcwera, Lybon Mabasa and Ishmael Mkhabela gave the regime sleepless nights, with lucid articles verdant with ideas that were laced with Steve Biko's nuances, mass action and targeted boycotts.

The African ecumenical community led by the feisty Desmond Tutu and the African business community led by Nthato Motlana gave the regime little rest.

The imposition of the state of emergency escalated violence further. The Rand Daily Mail of May 5 1987 reported that in 1986 alone there were 76 handgrenade attacks, 64 limpet mine explosions, one RPG7, 12 landmines explosions and 76 cases of the use of AK-47s.

The Azanian People's Liberation Army had been reconstituted with new impetus after the arrival of Sabelo Phama, which saw fresh attacks that were launched and scores of cadres infiltrated into the countryside.

In an attempt to undercut the growing resistance and defiance, the regime sponsored vigilante groups.

Resistance was organised up to street level, with self defence units manned by youths who responded to Oliver Tambo's call to render the country ungovernable.

Economic sanctions, sports isolation coupled with the militancy of the mass democratic movement, left the regime gasping for air.

Open defiance from the white populace increased, which further emasculated the Nationalists' grip over power. Increases in the membership and activities of the End Conscription Campaign conscientised white youth against the futility of defending apartheid's decadence.

Organised business was becoming apprehensive in an environment where businesses were targets of attacks and mass looting.

The regime began a process of gradual surrender to give an impression of bravery. It released ANC and PAC prisoners from Robben Island in 1987, including Sello Matsobane, Zifozonke Tshikila and John Nkosi.

In November 1987, it released Govan Mbeki and in 1988 Harry Gwala and Zeph Mothopeng followed. Soon after Japhta Masemola and Walter Sisulu were freed.

De Klerk was buying time and accruing concessions, especially from the international community which was beginning to ease sanctions.

Heaping praise on De Klerk is profligacy, hypocrisy, silly and selling out. We owe this chameleonic characternothing.

l The writer is director: of the Pan African Foundation.