Highlights of a historic life
Here are a few momentous occasions in Mandela’s life, told in his own words:
April 20, 1964 trial statement
Charged with sabotage, Mandela delivered a statement during his trial in Pretoria that revealed the depth of his resolve. “During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Feb. 11, 1990 Freedom
Mandela walked out of South Africa’s Victor Verster prison near Cape Town after 27 years in captivity. His release after so long was almost inconceivable. The world watched live on TV. Mandela said he was astounded by the reception. “When I was among the crowd I raised my right fist, and there was a roar. I had not been able to do that for 27 years and it gave me a surge of strength and joy. As I finally walked through those gates to enter a car on the other side, I felt — even at the age of 71 — that my life was beginning anew.”
May 10, 1994 Presidency
Nelson Mandela became the nation’s first black president after democratic elections. “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!”
June 24, 1995 World cup
Mandela strode onto the field at the Rugby World Cup final in Johannesburg, wearing South African colors and bringing the overwhelmingly white crowd of more than 60,000 to its feet. They chanted “Nelson! Nelson! Nelson!” His decision to wear the Springbok emblem, the symbol once hated by blacks, conveyed the message that rugby, for so long shunned by the black population, was now for all South Africans. The moment was portrayed in the Clint Eastwood-directed movie “Invictus,” which tells the story of South Africa’s transformation under Mandela’s leadership through the prism of sport.
July 11, 2010
A smiling but frail Mandela waved to the crowd at the Soccer City stadium at the closing ceremony of the World Cup. The former president did not address the crowd on that emotional day, and it was his last public appearance. He decided against attending the opener June 11 after the death of his great-granddaughter in a traffic accident following a World Cup concert.