posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 08:22 PM
The Olympic torch has completed its journey through southern Africa, with former South African President Nelson Mandela holding the flame aloft at the
place where he spent 27 years in prison.
The torch was flown by helicopter to Robben Island, where Mr. Mandela held the torch in a courtyard outside his former cell. The 85-year-old Nobel
laureate said that he was "happy and honored" that the flame passed through South Africa. For years, South Africa was barred from the Olympics because
of its now-abandoned policy of apartheid.
From Robben Island, the torch made its way past key landmarks in the struggle against apartheid, including a spot where an American exchange student
was killed by a mob in 1993.
Thousands cheered the arrival of the flame in the Cape Town square where Mr. Mandela made his first speech after being released from prison in 1990.
Football star Lucas Radebe then ignited a cauldron symbolizing South Africa's participation in the Olympics.
From South Africa, the torch heads to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to begin the South American leg of its worldwide journey. The flame returns to Greece in
July for a relay that culminates in the ignition of the Olympic Cauldron during the Opening Ceremonies August 13 in Athens.