Facing a death sentence for treason, Nelson Mandela stood in a South African courtroom in 1964 and delivered the speech of his life. In the end, he wasn't sent to his death but to jail for 27 years. Both the speech and his time in prison transformed a young Mandela into a global icon who personified struggle, endurance, hope, and dignity. When the South African authorities finally allowed him to walk out of prison in 1990, apartheid grew weaker with each step Mandela took. And now, he's walked into history.
Remembering Nelson Mandela
Apartheid was too arbitrary, too ugly, too obscene to last. But it could have endured a lot longer than it did but for Nelson Mandela. When the South African authorities finally allowed him to walk out of prison in 1990, apartheid grew weaker with each step Mandela took.
He didn't do it alone; many brave people fought rule-by-race and paid for it with their lives. But Nelson Mandela's influence was so profound he not only became a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement, he became an icon of transformation and reconciliation; an example to the world of the power of a Just Cause.
Today we heard from people whose lives he helped transform.
Nelson Mandela and former wife Winnie raise fists upon his release from Victor Verster prison, 11 February, 1990 in Paarl. (ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images).
- Ahmed Kathrada's friendship with Nelson Mandela spanned eight decades. They met as young activists when Kathrada was still in high school in the 1940s, were convicted alongside each other and imprisoned together on Robben Island from 1940 to 1985. He was in Johannesburg, South Africa.
- Toronto restaurateur and philanthropist Peter Oliver grew up in South Africa. Meeting Mandela here in Canada motivated him to take action.
- Lindiwe Mabuza joined the ANC in 1975. As a poet, short story writer, journalist, and political organizer -- she worked towards the single goal of ending apartheid. After the fall of apartheid she has represented the country as the ambassador to Germany and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
- Saosis Sukuway lives on Vancouver Island. Her parents are from South Africa and she named her son Mandela because Nelson Mandela was such an inspiration to her.
Nelson Mandela had friends around the world, including U2 frontman Bono, who worked with Mandela to end poverty in Africa. U2 wrote the song Ordinary Love
for the soundtrack of the new movie Long Walk to Freedom
, based on Nelson Mandela's biography of the same name. After opening in South Africa last week, it has become the country's highest grossing movie.More Nelson Mandela Coverage:
- In tribute to the man whose grace and courage inspired awe and respect around the world, The Sunday Edition has acquired a special documentary. Mandela: An Audio History,
tells the story of the struggle against apartheid through rare sound
recordings and the voice of Nelson Mandela himself, as well as those who
fought with him, and against him.
Share your thoughts and stories about Nelson Mandela with us.
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This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar, Peter Mitton, Debbie Pacheco, Kristin Nelson and Gord Westmacott.