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10 year anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela: What did he fight for and how long was he in prison?

The anniversary of the death of South Africa’s greatest hero is an opportunity to reflect on his fight against the aparthied system in his country.

FILE PHOTO: Nelson Mandela (L) is embraced by PLO leader Yasser Arafat as he arrives at Lusaka airport February 27, 1990.  REUTERS/Howard Burditt/File Photo
Howard BurdittREUTERS

Nelson Mandela is a global icon. He dedicated his life to dismantling the oppressive system of apartheid in South Africa, institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination by the white minority. Mandela’s resolve to challenge this injustice led him to the forefront of the anti-apartheid movement which resulted in its dismantling and him becoming president in 1994.

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people,” Mandela ended his court defence in 1964.

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Mandela passed away in 2013, making this December the tenth anniversary of his death.

Mandela’s time in prison

In 1962, Mandela was arrested and later convicted of sabotage during the Rivonia Trial. South African security forces raided Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, where ANC leaders, including Nelson Mandela, were meeting. The authorities arrested several key figures, accusing them of planning sabotage to overthrow the apartheid government.

Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment, spending 27 years behind bars. Despite the harsh conditions on Robben Island, Mandela remained resolute in his pursuit of justice and equality.

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.

Nelson Mandela

After Nelson Mandela’s release from prison on February 11, 1990, he played a pivotal role in South Africa’s transition from apartheid to a multi-racial democracy. Four years later, South Africa held its first democratic elections, open to citizens of all races.

Nelson Mandela, as the leader of the African National Congress (ANC), became the country’s first black president.