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Mary Queen of Scots

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Nelson Mandela’s ‘walk to freedom’

On Sunday 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela, the leading anti-apartheid campaigner, was released from prison after 27 years. 

Mandela’s release followed the relaxing of the apartheid laws and the lifting of the ban on the African National Congress (ANC) by South African President F.W. de Klerk. 

Aged 71, Mr Mandela walked out of the front gate of the suburban Victor Verster Prison, an hour late, arm-in-arm with his then-wife, Winnie. Although only a fleeting moment, each raised a fist in triumph to the ecstatic crowds of well-wishers, before getting in a silver BMW to be driven the 40 miles to Cape Town. Across the country people danced in the street and over 50,000 gathered to see him at a rally at the City Hall.

There followed a difficult four years of negotiation with the white-rule government to allow one-person one-vote, but in 1994 South Africa held its first non-racial, democratic election which led to the overwhelming election of Mandela as president.

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Quote of the day

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Nelson Mandela

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