Images of Nelson Mandela

The world lost an irreplaceable leader, thinker, icon and revolutionary, with the death of Nelson Mandela, who died at the age of 95 on Thursday. We can look to his own words for guidance on his passing:

Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.

Here are some images and documents from Mandela’s life.

Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 into a chief family in Mvezo in Umtatu, then a part of South Africa’s Cape Province. He ran away from home and went to Johannesburg to escape an arranged marriage in 1941.

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In 1944, Mandela joined the ANC, African National Congress, (African National Congress), an anti-Apartheid organization, which several world leaders, including U.S. President Ronald Reagan deemed a “terrorist organization.”

In 1952, Mandela and Oliver Tambo opened the first all-African law firm.


Though the ANC initially opposed violence, it created a military wing in 1960, which Mandela led. In 1964, Mandela, along with seven other people, was sentenced to life in prison. A hand written note from Mandela’s trial reads: “It is an ideal for which I have lived. It is an ideal for which I still hope to live and see realised. But if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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 Here, the eight prisoners leave the Palace of Justice in Pretoria on June 16, 1964 with their fists raised through the barred windows of the prison car.


Mandela began his life sentence at Robben Island prison, seven miles off the coast of Cape Town. This is a view of his cell. He was later moved to Pollsmoor Prison, located in the suburbs of Capetown. In 1985, South Africa president, P. W. Botha, offered to release Mandela from prison if he renounced violence. He refused to do so until the government ended apartheid.


Campaigns within South Africa and around the world called for the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid. The song “Free Nelson Mandela” by the Special AKA became a  Top 10 hit in the United Kingdom and the unofficial anti-apartheid anthem in 1984. Keith Haring created this iconic image in 1985


In 1990 the ANC ban was lifted and Mandela was freed.


Black voters linde up to cast their ballots in the first democratic vote ever in South Africa in 1994. Nelson Mandela and the ANC won in a land slide.

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Mandela marked the five-year anniversary of his release by visiting his prison on Robben Island.

Mandela announced that his only remaining son, Makgatho, 54, died of AIDS-related complications in 2005.


Nelson Mandela’s work and legacy live on.

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