For 27 years an unprecedented media silence surrounded the figure of Nelson Mandela.
The 71-year-old black leader, after half a prison term, only saw the light again on February 11, 1990, when after a long and hard negotiation with the South African government he was finally released. An immense crowd was ready to wait for him that day outside Victor Verster's prison. That afternoon the leader sent a message to the nation: "Our battle has reached a decisive stage and our march towards freedom is irreversible."
Mandela was arrested in 1963 when, together with the African National Congress, he decided to embrace a violent strategy to respond to the physical and rights oppressions suffered by African people.
Despite other times the government had considered Mandela's release in exchange for his renunciation of his principles of struggle, the leader had always refused. At the same time, Mandela took care during his detention of carrying out personal and secret negotiations with the various governments that have taken place over the years, with the aim of finding a solution to the civil emergency that the country was experiencing. In dialogue with the South African Minister of Justice Kobie Coetsee, Mandela advanced his conciliation policy by foreseeing, on the one hand, the abandonment of violent methods of struggle by the ANC, and on the other, the recognition of opponents of equal political dignity by the government.
It was thanks to numerous campaigns in favor of Mandela's release from prison that the then South African president, Frederik Willem de Klerk of the National Party, could do nothing but satisfy the population. Marked by the intrinsic intention in the message "The moment of dialogue has arrived", the opening by the President was accompanied by the release of other political prisoners, the legalization of the African National Congress and the suspension of the death penalty.
Finally, a protocol of understanding was reached between Mandela and Klerk, which provided for the need to draft a new constitution and to set the date for new elections. Thus, three years after his release, on April 27, 1994, the first free and multi-ethnic elections in South Africa marked the history of the country, crowning the African National Congress (Anc) and Mandela President of the Republic as winners.
That same year Mandela and Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize.
After 30 years since the United Nations called apartheid "crime against humanity" and after more than 40 years since the regime was established, the most terrible racial discrimination system that South Africa has known came to an end.
Today Mandela remains a strong point of inspiration, a symbol of the struggle for freedom and peace, still remembered for his political commitment and moral stature.