Twenty-eight years. A quarter of a century. That was the time that Nelson Mandela, a symbol of African unity and resistance, spent in prison.
Being a charismatic leader of the African National Congress (ANC) since 1944, the young president of the youth wing of Congress was an active militant for the defense of the blacks’ rights in South Africa before the party fought against the establishment of apartheid by the National Party in 1948. The ANC was outlawed after the massacre of Sharpeville in 1960. It then abandoned its original clandestine and non-violent struggle and became a military organization for liberation. Accused for his political activities, Mandela was incarcerated in 1962 and later condemned to life sentence on June 12, 1964, when the ANC and the Pan African Congress continued their struggle against the racist regime. Portrayed as a dangerous criminal, he rejected any kind of parole and maintained his principles intact during the large period he was kept in prison.
Released in 1991, he participated in the re-establishment of democracy, which put an end to apartheid and gave black people the right to vote. He became the first black South African president and one of the main African personalities in the world.