Today we remember the release of Nelson Madiba Mandela from the Robben Island prison in South Africa after a period of 27 years.
South Africa’s first black President, led the fight against apartheid, a system of racial segregation that privileged whites over blacks. He was arrested on Aug. 5, 1962, and was sentenced to five years in prison on Nov. 7, 1962, for leaving the country without a passport and incitement. Madiba was transferred to the Pretoria Local Prison, the site of capital punishment in South Africa.
Nelson Mandela however was not released after the 5 years. Two years later on June 11, 1964, he was convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow along with Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Raymond Mhlaba, Govan Mbeki, Elias Motsoaledi, Denis Goldberg and Andrew Mlangeni. For that “offense” he received a life prison sentence, at the Robben Island maximum security prison.
In 1989, F.W. de Klerk became South Africa’s President and set about dismantling apartheid. He lifted the ban on the African National Congress (ANC), suspended executions and on 11th February 1990, ordered the release of Nelson Mandela.
After his release, he joined negotiations with President F. W. de Klerk, to abolish apartheid and established multiracial elections. On 10th May 1994, Mandela became South Africa’s first black President. He served from 1994 to 1999.