Nelson Mandela dinner celebrates 20 years of freedom


Nelson Mandela has celebrated the 20th anniversary of his release from prison with a special dinner, inviting ex-wife Winnie and one of his former jailers.

Cyril Ramaphosa leads the toast at the dinner

Mr Mandela, who became South Africa’s first black president, was freed on 11 February 1990 after 27 years in jail, served mostly on Robben Island.

Mr Mandela has said he developed a friendship with warder Christo Brand that cemented his views of humanity.

The Nobel Prize winner, 91, was also joined by children and grandchildren.

Mr Mandela’s daughter, Zindzi, and a number of anti-apartheid activists who were there when he walked free, also attended the small gathering.

Zindzi Mandela filmed the dinner for a documentary called Conversations About That Day, which will be shown on the anniversary next week.

Key anti-apartheid politician Cyril Ramaphosa toasted Mr Mandela as “tata” or father.

He said: “You are still an inspiration. We are forever indebted to you, for the leadership and inspiration you provided. We are happy you are a free man, because as you became free, you made us free.”

Mr Mandela said of his friendship with Mr Brand that it “reinforced my belief in the essential humanity of even those who had kept me behind bars”.

He said he still did some exercise, but added: “I do feel like I am getting old. Time is flying. I’m not really worried.”

South Africa’s parliament will open next Thursday on the exact date of the anniversary.

Also coinciding with the anniversary is the release in the UK of the film Invictus, which draws on Mr Mandela’s efforts to unite South Africa in the run-up to the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

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