JOHANNESBURG - February 11, 2013 marks 23 years since Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela walked from Victor Verster prison, a free man. After 27 years of incarceration, Mandela emerged a struggle hero.
An anti-apartheid activist, Mandela was arrested in 1963 for plotting to overthrow the government.
He was leader of the ANC at the time, and a lawyer.
In 1964 he was convicted of treason and sentenced to life in jail.
In a defence statement during the so-called Rivonia trial, he said, “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 needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
He repeated this during the closing of his speech in Cape Town, on the day he was released in 1990.
Mandela's liberation marked a pivotal point in the South Africa's history, as he went on to become the country's first black president in 1994, in the first free elections.
During his inaugural address in Pretoria, on 9 May 1994, he said, "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another…"