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"Every time you go, you remember that day [of Mandela's release]," said Delekile Klaas, Regional Commissioner for the Western Cape province. "Seeing this gentle giant walking, raising his fist, saying, amandla (power)."

When Mandela was moved to Pollsmoor, it was an upgrade in conditions, but only just: Instead of a mat, he was given a bed.

In this file photo, stands on March 27, 1998 behind the bars of the former cell where he spent 18 of his 27 years as a political prisoner on Robben Island.(Photo: STEPHEN JAFFE, Getty Images)

They also remembered his tastes.

In 1982 Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison, and in 1988 to Victor Verster Prison, from which he was released in 1990. Unlike Robben Island, Pollsmoor and Victor Verster (now renamed the Drakenstein Correctional Centre) still hold prisoners but not political prisoners.

after he was released. "I was in tears after meeting him I was coming from the apartheid era. You never had the opportunity of meeting people like that."

The prisons where stayed are historic curiosities, but they did not break Mandela's spirit

In the leafy southern suburbs of Cape Town, the property surrounding Pollsmoor Prison has gone unexpectedly upscale in recent years. Consulate's compound is less than a half a mile away, with a tony mall in between; across the street is a luxury gated golfing community.

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Locals joke about poor people being behind bars on one side of the road, and wealthy people being behind bars on the other.

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Mandela's conditions at Victor Verster, near Paarl, were more spacious and of a higher standard. The space has been maintained as it was when Mandela was there.

CAPE TOWN When James Ellis who worked Adidas Messi 15.1 White in catering on Robben Island finally met , the feeling was indescribable, he recalled.

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Adidas Messi 15.1 White

On Monday, locals recalled his time there, and the moment he was released. And the African National Congress (ANC), Mandela's political party, organized visits to the two lesser known jails in the area, via a procession of black cars.

When Ellis' son was two years old, Mandela told him, "'Please don't let your son Adidas Football Shoes 2017 Pogba

Although not of his own choosing, spent much of his life in Cape Town, serving nearly two decades on Robben Island, once a prison that was a picturesque ferry ride from Cape Town's harbor. It is now one of the city's most popular tourist destinations.

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"He brought more calmness over me as a person," said Ellis, who Adidas Football Boots For Kids

Klaas pointed out that Mandela reorganized his living quarters to better suit his needs. For example, he decided not to sleep in the room originally designated as his bedroom.

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Adidas Messi 15.1 White

"When he arrived, he showed his jailers that he is in charge," said Klaas. "But I suppose in a very polite way."

met the prisoner Adidas Predator Powerswerve For Sale

´╗┐Prisons that held Mandela did not crush freedom's spirit

work like you are. Let him study.' So it seems that studies was one of the most important things in his life. And I've followed what he has said. My son is 21 years old today, and he has done that. I could not compromise his studies."

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Ellis said that Mandela had a sweet tooth, and made special requests for Ellis' koeksisters (a twisted, donut like pastry with sweet syrup that is a typical Afrikaner treat).

Mandela's cell at Pollsmoor today is preserved with photos on the walls, and available for historians to view.

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Locals spoke about Mandela's strong belief in an individual's capacity to change for the better.

Story HighlightsWitnesses say Mandela did not lose his dignity while imprisonedLeader often offered words of wisdom, kindness for those around himSome recall that Mandela actually made prison a homier place

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Today, Pollsmoor is a maximum security prison with a reputation of overcrowding, squalid conditions, and gangsterism.

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