A Day That Shook The World: Nelson Mandela freed

Thursday 10 February 2011 12:49

It will be precisely 21 years tomorrow since Nelson Mandela, ANC leader and freedom fighter, was released from prison.

Having served 27 years on charges of “treason against the state” in the notorious Robben Island and other jails, the man yet to become South African president, was already entering old age at 71.

He spent 18 years on Robben Island toiling in a lime quarry, receiving just one visitor and one letter every 6 months. But despite his incarceration, Mandela’s reputation as an equality fighter grew and grew.

Using the slogan ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ local and international pressure mounted on the South African government to release him. When Frederik Willem de Klerk replaced apartheid-bastion P.W Botha, he secured Mandela’s release.

This footage (above), taken on 11 February 1990, captures the moment Mandela walked free from Victor Verster prison, near Cape Town, one hand clutching his wife Winnie’s, the other making the gesture of black power.

Watch original footage at British Pathe.

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