Skip to navigationSkip to content


Our home for bold arguments and big thinkers.


It took 22 years for a generation to see this picture of Nelson Mandela

By Lauren Alix Brown

Nelson Mandela’s image is now ubiquitous. But after his imprisonment in 1964, it was illegal to photograph or republish a photo of the political prisoner in South Africa. Thus, a generation of apartheid South Africans grew up without Mandela—or at least all the photos of him flashing before us now with news of his death. The first photo to be released in 1986 was legal because it was taken by South Africa’s Department of Prisons. Here it appears in the Weekly Mail, 22 years after the ban: