#TBT: October 25, 1962 - Nelson Mandela is Imprisoned
On this day, 56 years ago, Nelson Mandela—leader of the movement to end South African apartheid—was convicted and sentenced to five years on Robben Island, the notorious political prison off the coast near Cape Town.
In 1961, Mandela was arrested for treason and was acquitted. In 1962, he was arrested and imprisoned for inciting African workers to strike and for illegally leaving the country. Immediately after sentencing, he was sent to the Robben Island prison, off the coast of Cape Town, where he was held in solitary confinement. He was brought back to Pretoria, the South African administrative capital, less than a year later to face even more serious charges under the Sabotage Act — charges that could have resulted in a death sentence. Those charges culminated in the Rivonia trial. This trial lasted until 1964 and constitutes one of the most dramatic political trials in world history. The Rivonia trial resulted in a life sentence.
Mandela spent the first 18 years of prison confined to a small cell without a bed or plumbing. He was forced to do hard labor. Once every six months, he could write and receive a letter in the mail. Once a year he was allowed to have a visitor for 30 minutes.
Let that sink in for a minute. Can you imagine what that does to someone? But even better, can you see the strength he had to endure?!
While in prison, he also led a movement of civil disobedience that resulted in improved conditions on Robben Island. Later, he was moved to a different location. In 1989, the South African president —F.W. de Klerk— started working to dismantle apartheid in South Africa, and in February 1990, ordered that Nelson Mandela be released from prison.
On February 11, 1990, he was released from prison. 27 years later. Afterwards, he led the African National Congress in its negotiations with the minority government for an end to apartheid and the establishment of a multiracial government. In 1993, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. A year later, Mandela was elected South Africa’s president! He continued to be an advocate for peace and social justice until he passed away in December 2013. His presence on this earth was a blessing and his courage and resilience will never be forgotten.