Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa

Victor Verster Prison, 1988-1990 and release

Over the 27 years that Nelson Mandela spent in prison, he encountered many prison officials. Of all of them, he spent the most time with his warders, three of whom became good friends–James Gregory, Christo Brand and Jack Swart. Warders held special duties for a prisoner of Mandela's caliber–reading his letters, sitting in on family visits, and even chatting with him throughout the day.

On February 10, 1990 South African President F.W. de Klerk summoned Mandela for a secret meeting in which he told him that the next day he would go free. Mandela, ever respectful, thanked him, but requested a week's notice instead, stating that he wanted sufficient time for his family and organization to prepare. de Klerk, taken aback, briefly discussed the request with his officials, but came back and told him that he had no option. Mandela relented.

Below is a note that Mandela wrote to his warder James Gregory on the day of his release–February 11, 1990.

Image via RTE News

Victor Verster Prison, 1988-1990 and release