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Flashback Remarkable Footage

July 18, 2009

It was 45 years ago - winter 1964 - Nelson Mandela arrived on Robben Island (map) where he would spend 18 of his 27 prison years.

This video was shot in 1977. It was first seen in our film, The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela.

In the early years on the island he had a small cell, the floor was his bed, a bucket his toilet. He was forced to do hard labor in a quarry, allowed one visitor a year for 30 minutes and one letter every six months. (Explore his prison years.)

The video shows his cell. Near the end, there's several seconds of Mandela caught by the camera working with other prisoners repairing a road. It was shot during a journalists' tour of the island, initiated by the government to dispel stories of brutal conditions.

By this time, 1977, Mandela was in many ways a forgotten man. He had been on the island 13 years and throughout South Africa his image and words were banned.

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