Nelson Mandela,South African anti-apartheid pioneer
With the apartheid regime teetering and international protests intensifying, South African President P.W. Botha came up with a plan to defuse the situation. In 1985, he offered to release Nelson Mandela from prison as long as his political party, the African National Congress, renounced certain policies. Even though Mandela had spent 21 crushing years in custody, he refused, believing that any compromise would undermine the anti-apartheid movement. For this self-sacrificing dissidence, Mandela spent another five years in prison. But he inspired a fresh generation of activists and stoked the flames of the uprising that eventually brought full democracy to South Africa.
Toni Hoffman, nurse
When a new surgeon agreed to come to a remote hospital in Australia, administrators were thrilled that they had been able to recruit successfully during a doctor shortage. Nurse Toni Hoffman, however, watched as this surgeon ignored basic hygiene, conducted unnecessary operations and botched procedures. When her complaints were repeatedly ignored, Hoffman mounted a campaign to expose the doctor, despite threats of lawsuits and dismissal. Finally, a parliamentary investigation linked the surgeon to 87 deaths. He now faces multiple counts of manslaughter. As a result of her heroic dissent, recruiting practices at hospitals were overhauled and Hoffman was named Australian of the Year.
Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, Malawian gay rights advocates
A hateful wave of intolerance is washing across Africa. In Senegal, two dozen men were jailed for frequenting a gay bar, while in Uganda, conservative politicians and Christian ministers are lobbying to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death. In this atmosphere, the decision by Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga to become the first openly gay married couple in Malawi is one of the most courageous acts of dissent in recent memory. Monjeza and Chimbalanga were arrested and sentenced to 14 years in prison following their wedding last year but have recently been released.