Nelson Mandela, whose death at 95 was announced yesterday by South African President Jacob Zuma, became an international figure during the 1960s when he was sentenced to life in prison for his political anti-Apartheid activism. It is remarkable to me that there is a generation of young people who weren’t alive when Mandela spent all those years in captivity. One must remember that as a consequence of his imprisonment, the Apartheid regime banned publication of his image. Indeed, the only image most people had of Mandela was this 1961 interview aired on British TV the year before he was captured.
Mandela’s imprisonment seemed an immutable fact of life as the Berlin Wall. The fact that Mandela was freed within months of the Wall being torn down demonstrates the impossible is possible. The end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s were a heady time. It must be said that F.W. de Klerk was to South Africa what Mikhail Gorbachev was to the Soviet Union. Mandela and de Klerk richly deserved their joint Nobel Peace Prize 20 years ago.