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This Week in History

Listen to and learn about events that happened this week in history—including politics, war, crime, inventions, entertainment and fashion. Archive of events that have shaped history. For learners and teachers of English, with audio recording, vocabulary and quick quizzes.

11 February 1990

Nelson Mandela Is Freed From Jail

South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela is freed after nearly 30 years' imprisonment.

In 1990, Nelson Mandela was released after spending almost 30 years in jail for opposing South Africa's apartheid regime. He then became the first democratically-elected State President of South Africa, leading the country from 1994 to 1999. His leadership helped to unite the country after many years of conflict between the black and white communities.

anti-apartheid (adjective): against racial separation
imprisonment (noun): the putting of a person in prison or jail
oppose (verb): be against; try to stop
democratically elected (adjective): chosen to hold a position through a fair public vote
unite (verb): bring together

Nelson Mandela on 1988 USSR commemorative postage stamp
1988 USSR postage stamp commemorating 70th birthday of Nelson Mandela, two years before his release

Quick Quiz:

Nelson Mandela was the President of South Africa

  1. from 1990
  2. for 30 years
  3. until 1999

Mandela had been imprisoned for

  1. opposing the apartheid system
  2. attacking white communities
  3. uniting South Africa

The apartheid system in South Africa was intended to

  1. develop black and white communities equally
  2. keep black and white communities apart
  3. bring black and white communities together

Guide for Teachers - How to use This Week in History in your classes

Contributor: Matt Errey