A Tribut to Nelson
By Pulitzer winner David Turnley
‘Madiba’ Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was raised in the rural Transkei, born into the Xhosa Thembu Royal family. At age
22, after studying at the prestigious Fort Hare University when the portrait in this photograph was made, ‘Madiba’
returned to the village to find that his Chieftan father had arranged marriages for him and his adopted brother, Justin.
It was at this moment that Mandela, resisting, took a train to Johannesburg and was quickly catapulted into a
leadership role to end apartheid. The young man in this photograph, holding the portrait of ‘Madiba’ in college, is a
distant relative who lives in the village of Mqhekezweni, in the Transkei, where this original portrait still sits on the
mantel of the family home.
Under the tenants of apartheid, every South African of color was stripped of South African citizenship, obligated to
carry a passbook at all times and relegated to their tribal identities — all in order to ensure governance at the hands
of a white minority. 1994.
Historically under apartheid, it was common for even middle-class white South Africans to have at least one black
domestic worker and a man referred to as a "garden boy." 1986.
South African blacks throughout the country were obliged to live in townships, ghettos on the outskirts of urban
centers inhabited by whites. Soweto, where this photograph was made, became home to 1.3 million black South
Africans on the outskirts of Johannesburg and also the home where Nelson and Winnie Mandela lived when first
A worker plays the guitar with his daughter
on a Sunday morning before he goes to work
as a field hand. The father works 60 hours a
week for a salary of $30 a month. Orange
Free State, South Africa. 1986.
A South African mother travels with her children in a segregated train car. 1986.
A young woman mourns the death of her brother, killed in confrontation with white South African military and
police in a township in the heart of the country. 1987.
As their leader Nelson Mandela was sent to prison for life for his aspirations of a non-racist, non-sexist
democratic South Africa, it was common that hundreds of thousands of black South Africans would
congregate in a township somewhere in the country each weekend to protest apartheid and to mourn the
deaths of loved ones killed protesting.
Nelson Mandela was sent to Robben Island with a life sentence for treason for his participation in the African National
Congress (ANC) in 1964. He spent 19 of his 27 years in this prison cell on Robben Island, and the remaining years on
the mainland on the edge of Cape Town in Pollsmoor Prison.
Winnie Mandela fell in love with and married Nelson Mandela when she was 24 years old. They had two
children — both girls — during the two years before Mandela went to prison. Winnie herself was placed
in solitary confinement for 18 months and was banished for nine years under house arrest in Brandfort.
Through it all, Winnie remained the public persona of her husband. 1986.
Black South Africans mourn the deaths of anti-apartheid protestors in Duncan Village, a township outside of East
London, South Africa. 1986.
The world looked on as international hero Mandela walked out of prison after 27 years on Feb. 11, 1990, with
his wife, Winnie. At 6'3" tall, "Madiba" and his presence met the stature that the world had expected.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu leads Mandela through the neighborhood in Soweto where Mandela lived before going
to prison — the same neighborhood home to Archbishop Tutu — on the first day of his release from prison.
Sitting with Walter Sisulu, who had spent 27 years in prison with Mandela, just minutes after his release, they
confer seconds before Mandela made his first public speech to the world.
Mandela is greeted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Cape Town City Hall, among the first group of
people that Mandela celebrated with after his release.
The morning after Mandela's release from prison, he returned to his one-bedroom, cinder-block
home that only recently had indoor plumbing, where he and Winnie had started their life with two
daughters 27 years earlier, Zinzi and Zni.
Nelson Mandela shares his first meal at the Mandela home in Soweto with his family and fellow inmate of
27 years, Walter Sisulu. The man pouring champagne, Cyril Ramaphosa, who many believe could be the
next President of South Africa.
Madiba sits in the backyard in front of the international press corps with his beloved wife, Winnie, the day after his
release from prison.
Following Nelson Mandela's release from prison, he circulated through the country. Everywhere he went,
millions of South Africans came out to celebrate their leader and to support him in his quest to become the first
President of a democratic South Africa. 1993.
Nelson Mandela visits the mud rondavel in which he was raised as a child in the rural Transkei. In his years
following his Presidency, he moved back to this area that represented for him his roots and his love for the
beauty of his South African land. With his classic charm and a smile on his face, he remarked upon exiting the
dwelling that he had become a man in this rondavel.
Having been adopted at age nine by a Thambu chief and raised in this village, Mandela has said that it is
underneath this tree where he learned the value of consensus politics, as each Wednesday evening the
community would gather with the village elders to discuss the issues at hand. Everyone was given an
opportunity to speak.
Mandela campaigns for the presidency of South Africa in the Zulu area of KwaZulu-Natal. 1994.
Nelson Mandela, surrounded by his ever-loyal bodyguards, campaigns in the northern Transvaal. 1994.
Minutes after Mandela was
inaugurated as the first
President of a democratic
and free South Africa, David
Turnley managed to earn
access to an exclusive
luncheon. During his first
speech in front of heads of
state, the wife of the
former President F. W. De
Klerk couldn't bring herself
to turn and listen to the
Just after Nelson Mandela's inaugural speech, he introduces Cuban President Fidel Castro to the
former South African President F. W. De Klerk.
For those familiar with the movie Invictus, in real life, these are the two sons of the 1996 South African World
Cup Rugby champion's captain, Francois Pienaar. Sitting on his lap, the boy on the right asked innocently,
"Madiba, how could they have put you in prison for 27 years when you didn't steal anything?"
Madiba responded, "Sweetheart, I did steal something. I stole freedom for our people.“
Mandela sits with his new wife, Graca Machel, in their home outside Qunu, in the Transkei where Mandela
was raised. 2007.
On a hillside outside of Qunu in the Transkei, a man who referred to himself as one of Mandela's brothers,
stands in front of the family cemetery where it is commonly thought Mandela will be buried. 2007.
Nelson Mandela, after 27 years in prison and two administrations as South African President of a newlydemocratic nation, sits enjoying a braai (or BBQ), listening to singing in the backyard of a friend as he
relishes his graceful years in a free nation.
Legal rows: Nelson Mandela, centre, is surrounded by his grandchildren - many of whom supported a legal bid
to gain control of a Mandela art merchandise company - at his house in Qunu, Eastern Cape, on his 90th
Family affair: Nelson Mandela with his daughter Princess Zenani Dlamini, centre, and her daughters
Zaziwe Manaway, pictured left holding baby Ziphokazi Manaway, and Zamaswazi Dlamini pictured right
holding baby Zamakhosi Obiri last year. Zaziwe appeared in the reality TV show 'Being Mandela' earlier
To understand Nelson Mandela is to understand the love and reverence
he holds for the rural Transkei, acknowledging the African history and
the peacefulness of traditional Khosa-speaking, agrarian culture — still
largely bereft of material wealth but rich in human dignity and natural