20th Anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s Release from Prison


In 1990, after 27 years of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela was released. Mandela had been arrested in 1962 with the help of the CIA. At the time, he was the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC) which he had co-founded. The ANC was a political party that had been banned under Apartheid but was widely supported by black South Africans. Mk had been responsible for sabotage and destruction against government and military targets to respond to the seeming futility of the ANC’s nonviolent protests. After he was caught, he was sentenced to life in prison in 1964, spending the first 17 years of his incarceration at Robben Island. On February 2, 1990 F.W. De Klerk, who was the President of South Africa, announced that he was lifting the ban on the ANC and anti-apartheid organizations and that he would release Mandela from Victor Verster Prison, where he had been transferred to a few years prior. On the 11th Mandela was released, commencing a series of tense negotiations between him and De Klerk which eventually led to the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. Their efforts were recognized when awarded a joint Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Mandela became the first President of a post-Apartheid, openly democratic South Africa with De Klerk as his vice-president.

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