Nelson Mandela, left, and his wife Winnie, right, at Cape Town's airport prior to a flight to Johannesburg in this February 1990 photo, the day after his release from prison. Photo: ADIL BRADLOW, Wire / AP1990

Nelson Mandela, left, and his wife Winnie, right, at Cape Town's airport prior to a flight to Johannesburg in this February 1990 photo, the day after his release from prison. Photo: ADIL BRADLOW, Wire / AP1990

Chelsea Clinton, Gordon Brown, Bill Clinton and Sarah Brown pose behind  Nelson Mandela and his wife Graça Machel

Stars gather for Mandela photocall... but Amy Winehouse is a no show

Chelsea Clinton, Gordon Brown, Bill Clinton and Sarah Brown pose behind Nelson Mandela and his wife Graça Machel

Preseident Nelson Mandela with ANC President Oliver Reginald Tambo.

Preseident Nelson Mandela with ANC President Oliver Reginald Tambo.

Nelson Mandela         Incarcerated for 27 years for his efforts to abolish racial segregation in South Africa, Nelson Mandela is widely regarded for his human rights work. Mandela spent the best part of his youth working with the African National Congress, which advocated a non-violent approach to changing the apartheid laws in the country.

The Seven Greatest Humanitarians In History

Nelson Mandela Incarcerated for 27 years for his efforts to abolish racial segregation in South Africa, Nelson Mandela is widely regarded for his human rights work. Mandela spent the best part of his youth working with the African National Congress, which advocated a non-violent approach to changing the apartheid laws in the country.

» Nelson Mandela Hospitalized In Critical Condition

» Nelson Mandela Hospitalized In Critical Condition

In 1990, Nelson Mandela told ABC that his time in prison had its benefits: "To spend 27 years at the prime of your life is a tragedy . . . but there are very positive aspects, too, because I had the opportunity to think about problems and to reflect on my mistakes. I also had the opportunity to read very widely, especially biographies, and I could see what men — sometimes from very humble beginnings — were able to lift themselves with their boot strings and become international figures."

Nelson Mandela's Most Insightful Quotes

In 1990, Nelson Mandela told ABC that his time in prison had its benefits: "To spend 27 years at the prime of your life is a tragedy . . . but there are very positive aspects, too, because I had the opportunity to think about problems and to reflect on my mistakes. I also had the opportunity to read very widely, especially biographies, and I could see what men — sometimes from very humble beginnings — were able to lift themselves with their boot strings and become international figures."

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