- This day marks the 30th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison
- The former president served 27 years in jail
- Many took to social media to commemorate his sacrifice
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On this day 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela was released from prison after spending 27 years behind bars. Thousands of people waited for his historic address at the Grand Parade in Cape Town.
Mandela, a lawyer, joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944. He became a leader of Johannesburg’s youth wing of the ANC. In 1952, he became deputy national president of the ANC, advocating non-violent resistance to apartheid. However, after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, Nelson helped organise a para-military branch of the ANC to engage in guerrilla warfare against the white minority government.
In 1961, he was arrested for treason and was acquitted, only to be arrested again in 1962 for illegally leaving the country. He was sentenced to five years in Robben Island Prison and was put on trial again in 1964 on charges of sabotage. In June 1964, he was convicted along with several other ANC leaders and sentenced to life in prison.
Mandela spent the first 18 of his 27 years in jail at the brutal Robben Island Prison. He was forced to do hard labour in a quarry. He could write and receive a letter once every six months, and once a year he was allowed to meet with a visitor for 30 minutes. He was later moved to another location, where he lived under house arrest.
In 1989, FW de Klerk became South African president and set about dismantling apartheid. The then-president lifted the ban on the ANC, suspended executions and ordered the release of Mandela.
Thousands waited for Mandela's address upon his release. Crowds gathered the Grand Parade in Cape Town and his address was well-worth the wait. Standing at the City Hall, the president-in-waiting started off by saying that he was not a prophet but merely a servant. He then dedicated his life to the people of South Africa.
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Mandela subsequently led the ANC in its negotiations with the minority government for an end to apartheid and the establishment of a multiracial government.
A few politicians took to social media to share their respects.
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