Photographer Gideon Mendel's 12 Iconic Moments with Nelson Mandela

By The Nelson Mandela Foundation

11 February 1990: Released from Prison
Nelson Mandela walks out of the gates of Victor Verster prison. He was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the apartheid state. For many of his twenty-seven years in jail Mandela was held under harsh conditions on Robben Island, breaking rocks in a limestone quarry.

Nelson Mandela walks out of the gates of Victor Verster prison (1990-02-11) by Gideon MendelThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

11 February 1990: Arriving at Cape Town Town Hall
Hours after release from prison Nelson Mandela along with his wife Winnie Mandela, drive into the chaotic crowd at the Grand Parade in Cape Town, where their car was mobbed by supporters.

Nelson Mandela arriving at Cape Town City Hall (1990-02-11) by Gideon MendelThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

15 February 1990: The Amandla Salute
Nelson Mandela raises a clenched fist in the Amandla salute as he poses for the world’s media outside his home in Diepkloof, Soweto, shortly after his release from prison.

Nelson Mandela raises a clenched fist in the Amandla salute (1990-02-15) by Gideon MendelThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

2 February 1992: South Africa’s first free and democratic election
Nelson Mandela salutes the crowd as he is driven into an ANC political rally at Dal Josafat stadium in Paarl. This was the day that the ANC launched their political campaign for South Africa’s first free and democratic election.

Nelson Mandela salutes the crowd (1994-02-02) by Gideon MendelThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

2 February 1994: Nelson Mandela Greets ANC Supporters
Nelson Mandela greets enthusiastic ANC supporters as he launches the ANC’s election campaign at a rally in Dal Josafat stadium in Paarl.

Nelson Mandela greets enthusiastic ANC supporters (1994-02-11) by Gideon MendelThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

18 February 1994: Nelson Mandela Greets Supporters
Nelson Mandela and supporters at an ANC election rally in Sasolburg in the Orange Free State during country’s first democratic election campaign.

Nelson Mandela and supporters (1994-02-18) by Gideon MendelThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

18 February 1994: Honouring Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela is honoured in a Sesotho traditional manner, with women wrapping him in a regal blanket during an election rally in Sasolburg township stadium.

Nelson Mandela is honoured in a Sesotho traditional manner (1990-02-18) by Gideon MendelThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

8 March 1994: Madiba Jive
Nelson Mandela sings and dances with supporters at an election rally in De Aar, a small town in the Karroo desert in the northern Cape, close to the geographic centre of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela sings and dances with supporters (1994-03-08) by Gideon MendelThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

15 April 1994: Campaigning for Mandela
ANC supporters clamber up a large billboard as they await the arrival of Nelson Mandela prior to an election rally in KwaMashu Township in Natal.

ANC supporters clamber up a large billboard as they await the arrival of Nelson Mandela (1994-04-15) by Gideon MendelThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

8 March 1994: A 'Buffel'
A ‘Buffel’ armoured military vehicle drives past ANC election campaign workers in De Aar. These vehicles were notorious for their use by the police and army in brutally suppressing township protests across South Africa in the years leading up to Nelson Mandela’s release.

A ‘Buffel’ armoured military vehicle drives past ANC election campaign workers (1994-03-08) by Gideon MendelThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

3 April 1994: Easter Gathering
Nelson Mandela and his political opponent President F.W. de Klerk, attend the annual Easter gathering of the Zion Christian Church, the largest independent black church in Southern Africa. This helped calm political tensions at a time when many feared the country was on the verge of a violent bloodbath.

Nelson Mandela and his political opponent President F.W. de Klerk (1994-04-03) by Gideon MendelThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

16 March 1993: Reunion of Political Prisoners
Nelson Mandela symbolically chips away at a rock in the limestone quarry on Robben Island during a reunion of political prisoners, who had convened to discuss the future of the island. He did . forced labour here for thirteen years of his imprisonment. As a result of the bright glare from the white rocks and the alkalinity of the limestone dust, Mandela suffered lasting damage to his eyes.

Nelson Mandela symbolically chips away at a rock in the limestone quarry on Robben Island (1993-03-16) by Gideon MendelThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

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