Friday, February 11, 2011
On this day in 1990, after years of pressure on South Africa's apartheid governments by the West, Nelson Mandela was released from prison; he is interviewed here by James Robbins of the BBC upon his release. No one quite knew what to expect of a man who'd been in prison for 27 years - many of them either at hard labour or in isolation - but from the first he appeared poised and spoke like a diplomat and statesman.
Through the years ahead he would continue to serve as a model for African leadership, steering his country through a rocky transition to majority rule, jettisoning the wife who stood by him throughout his incarceration when the full extent of her criminal activities became known, and keeping the potential for rancour in a body such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu) at bay.
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