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Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

Nelson Mandela Released

Nelson Mandela, 1990

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

Karsh photographed Mandela in June of that year. Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney greeted Mandela at the airport and accompanied him to the Chateau Laurier. “We were waiting in the lobby and the introductions were made. When the session started an hour later, Mandela was warm and friendly but obviously very tired. Yousuf then told him a story about Pope John XXIII. He had asked the Pontiff, “How many people work in the Vatican?” The Pope smiled and replied, “About half.” Mandela looked a little blank. Suddenly he got the joke, slapped the table, and roared with laughter. And, everything about the sitting changed.” Jerry Fielder, Curator.

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