This is the day our world’s greatest leader of all times began his long walk to freedom!

Nelson Rolihlahla Dalibungha Mandela was born in the Transkei on July 18, 1918, and trained as a lawyer.

madiba's priosn release
Long walk to Freedom. Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela with a tight fist punching the air with joy, alongside then wife Winnie after his release from Victor Verster Prison. On the left with beard is current deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

He became a key figure in the African National Congress (ANC) and its decision in 1955 to embark on organised resistance to the newly-elected National Party in the form of the Defiance Campaign.

Going underground after the ANC was banned in 1960, he was arrested and sentenced in 1964 to life imprisonment for plotting the overthrow of the government.

He served the bulk of his time on Robben Island, where he became a symbol of apartheid injustice.

Freed by the reformist head of state FW de Klerk in 1990, he was elected president of the ANC the following year. In May 1994 he was inaugurated president of South Africa by a new non-racial Parliament.

He formally retired from public life in June 2004.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape ANC plans to march through Cape Town to celebrate the 26th anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison, ahead of the State of the Nation address on Thursday.

However, the City of Cape Town’s Priya Reddy said the party had not been given permission to do so.

The ANC said in a statement that “masses” of people would meet at Keizersgracht from 14:00, where party leaders would explain proceedings.

Reddy said if they gathered, police would be deployed.

ANC Western Cape provincial spokesperson Jabu Mfusi said the Democratic Alliance-run city was abusing its power.

“We are celebrating, with discipline, our icon. What’s wrong about that?”

Reddy said police had approved three marches – by the Ses’khona People’s Rights Movement, #ZumaMustFall movement, and by the DA.

Additional reporting: Sydney Morweng-SLM news editor!

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