A YOUNG MAN SCRUBS A “FREE MANDELA” SLOGAN off a wall of King’s College Chapel at Cambridge University in 1965. The UK government was a committed ally of the apartheid government in South Africa at the time, and would remain so for at least the next two decades, consistently opposing international sanctions.
In 1962, while leading a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government, Nelson Mandela was arrested and subsequently sentenced to life-imprisonment. From behind bars, he continued to campaign vociferously against apartheid, even refusing an offer of conditional release, until 1990 when the South African government began dismantling the system, granted Mandela his unconditional freedom, and legalised all formerly banned political parties. Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president in 1994, and helped guide the country’s transition to multicultural democracy. He passed away, aged 95, from a recurring lung infection on 5 December 2013. Addressing a nation in mourning, South African president Jacob Zuma said the country had “lost its greatest son”.