It was 41 or 42 years ago. I was around 13. My mother had subscribed me to the UNESCO Courier.
One day arrived a special issue. It was about APARTHEID LAWS and showed the racial situation in South Africa. I knew about it at the time, but not in details. we were not taught that at school in those times. Are they even now, I wonder?
I was horrified. Rules about marriage, travel, place of residence, work?, For non whites of course. The incredible penalties if you broke these laws were also appalling.
Nelson Mandela was also mentioned as a famous prisoner, member of the ANC. Litlle by little, year after year, I heard more about South Africa, the apartheid, and the situation of "people of colour" there. And finally, in 1990, the incredible happened. De Klerk freed Mandela and they decided to end apartheid.
I've never been to South Africa. I went to Zimbabwe in he 80's after Independence. The white population was fleeing the country, and, not being able to bring all their belongings with them, would spend months in hotels in Harare. It created a sort of colony of bitter, racist people living their last hours of glory. Pitiful.
To go back to South Africa, the world realized very soon that Mandela was special. He was not (any more?) the ANC terrorist but a wise man looking for peace between South Africans. He appeared like a Gandhi, or a Mother Theresa. For a politician, this is quite unknown. He seemed uncorrupted by power, and loved by both his friends and his former foes.