On February 11, 1990, Mandela was freed from prison after serving 27 years behind bars in Victor-Verster Prison in Paarl, near Cape Town. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 for treason, so the release came as a surprise. Few can forget the image of him walking hand-in-hand with his then-wife, Winnie, into the surrounding pack of overjoyed supporters. He later addressed a crowd of 50,000 people on the balcony of Cape Town’s City Hall. “Our struggle has reached a decisive moment. Our march to freedom is irreversible,” Mandela said.
1993 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
The former South African president won the award with Frederick Willem de Klerk for their efforts to change South African society.
After Mandela’s release, he resumed his leadership position in the African National Congress(ANC). He later went on to become the country’s first Black president in South Africa’s first multicultural election, in 1994.
Mandela Takes a Bow
In June of 1999, the oldest elected president of South Africa retires from the presidency and continues his involvement in different social and human rights initiatives. He was succeeded by Thabo Mbeki. A few years later, in 2004, he vows to step out of the public sphere.
In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly announced July 18 Nelson Mandela International Day to honor his contribution to world peace and freedom.
Conversations with Myself
The book gives readers an inside look into the life of the private, political figure. Conversations with Myself, released worldwide in 22 editions and 20 languages, includes letters written in his prison cell to pages from the unfinished sequel to his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. The book launched in October 2010.
Naomi Campbell and a bevy of stars came out in full affect for the statesman’s charity concert and birthday extravaganza. Will Smith hosted the event and artists including Leona Lewis and Amy Winehouse took the stage at the 46664 charity concert in London’s Hyde Park to honor Mandela’s 90th birthday. The 46664 campaign, named after Mandela’s prison number, is a movement to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.
Establishes Pact of Elders
On the cusp of his 89th birthday, Mandela announced yet another initiative—The Elders. He began leading a group of 12 “wise men and women” called to address global issues.
In January of 2005, the revered leader announced that his son Makgatho, 54, died of AIDS complications. AIDS activists praised Mandela’s decision to disclose his son’s condition because the epidemic is rarely, if at all, talked about in the South African community. According to 2009 statistics, 310,000 South Africans died of AIDS and approximately 5.6 million are living with HIV and AIDS. His announcement was part of a larger initiative to spread awareness about the disease.