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February 11, 2010

Cape Town celebrates 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison

Robben Island

Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island. Photo courtesy Mark Holtzhausen

Today marks 20 years since former president Nelson Mandela was released from prison. In celebration of Madiba’s 20 years of freedom, people will be gathering just outside Cape Town in their thousands to march from the former Victor Verster Prison (now the Groot Drakenstein Correctional Centre) in Paarl, in the Western Cape.

According to the Mail & Guardian online, the 500m march will be led by Mr Mandela’s former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and aims to symbolise his walk to freedom, broadcast globally to millions of people 20 years ago.

Today, thousands of tourists visit Robben Island – the island just off Cape Town’s shores, where Mr Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years of incarceration.

The Robben Island Museum Tour includes a guided tour of the maximum security prison. A visit to Mandela’s cell in B-section is a significant part of the tour. The small cell has been left in its original state to show the hardships of prison life.

So, if you don’t join in today’s celebrations, make sure you visit Robben Island on your next trip to Cape Town, and take a moment to pay homage to the man to whom South Africa owes so much.

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