Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, 1990

On this day, February 11, in 1990, Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years in prison.

Karsh photographed Mandela in June of 1990, during Mandela’s formal visit to the Canadian parliament. Mandela was vice-president of the African National Congress (ANC) at the time, and he addressed a joint session of the House of Commons and the Senate, the first time in four decades a non-head of state had been given the special privilege. Mandela praised Canada for supporting the anti-apartheid movement and asked the government not to lift trade sanctions on South Africa – a request then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney proudly obliged. Canada lifted the sanctions in 1993, the year before Mandela became president.