Nelson Mandela Released from Prison
Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was the first president of a post-Apartheid South Africa, from 1994 to 1999. A significant portion of Mandela’s life was as the leader of the African National Congress (ANC) and he spent 27 years in prison for conspiracy. Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 was a crucial event in the transformation of South Africa and directly led to the end of Apartheid.
Mandela, trained as a lawyer, joined the ANC in the 1940s and quickly rose within the group’s leadership. During the 1950s, Mandela became convinced that armed resistance was the only available path, and led a campaign of sabotage against the racist government. Arrested in 1962, Mandela was sentenced to life in prison, spending eighteen years on notorious Robben Island. By 1980, an international campaign to free Mandela was in full force, recognizing both the racist nature of the South African government and the miscarriage of justice that was his sentence.
By 1989, President F.W. de Klerk had recognized that Apartheid was unsustainable, and his government began negotiations with Mandela. Part of those negotiations included his release from prison in February 1990. Mandela was hailed as a hero across the globe and negotiated the end of Apartheid, being elected as the first black president of South Africa, initiating a new era in the history of that nation. He also received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at ending strife both in South Africa and around the world.