South Africa is home to many different peoples and cultures – so much so that it’s been nicknamed the ‘rainbow nation’.
But, sadly, at the time that Nelson Mandela was growing up, there was a huge racial divide in the country.
After 18 years there, he was transferred to Victor Verster Prison near a town called Paarl.
During his time behind bars, Nelson Mandela didn’t give up on what he believed in.
Under new racist laws, black people and white people were forced to lead separate lives.
They weren’t allowed to live in the same areas, share a table in a restaurant, attend the same schools or even sit together on a train or bus!
Their work towards making South Africa a more peaceful place won the pair the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Come the 1994 general election, all races in South Africa were allowed to vote.
Over time, Nelson Mandela became a famous prisoner, and there were calls all around the world to ‘Free Nelson Mandela! For decades, countries around the world had put pressure on South Africa to end apartheid, but now the anti-apartheid movement had more support than ever. The president of South Africa, FR de Klerk, met with Nelson Mandela and in 1990 set him free!
In 1991, Nelson became President of the ANC and worked with FR de Klerk to bring an end to apartheid in a harmonious way, and introduce equal rights for everyone.