Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was a South African politician, anti-apartheid revolutionary and philanthropist, who spent his life battling racial injustice.
Mandela spent 27 years in prison for fighting apartheid and opposing the South African government, and was initially labelled a terrorist by some Western governments.
Mandela was finally released from jail in 1990 and helped negotiate the end of apartheid, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1993 along with President F. W. de Klerk.
In 1994 he was then elected President in the country's first multiracial general election, and served as the head of state until 1999.
Following his retirement from politics, Mandela continued his work as an activist and a highly respected global ambassador for peace until his passing in 2013.
Today Nelson Mandela is revered in South Africa as the "Father of the Nation", and has been described as "a universal symbol of social justice".
In July 1996, Nelson Mandela made a historic state visit to the U.K as Prime Minister of South Africa.
During his four-day visit he stayed at Buckingham Palace as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II; hosted a music concert at the Royal Albert Hall to raise funds for South African children's charities; visited Brixton, the heart of London's black community; and gave an impassioned speech to Parliament.
According to reports, members of Parliament brought their families along with them to witness the speech inside a packed Westminster Hall.
He was introduced on stage by Betty Boothroyd, Speaker of the House of Commons, who stated:
"You spent more than a third of your life in prison, though your spirit was freer there than those of your captors outside."
Mandela's speech mentioned the often fraught relationship between Britain and South Africa over the past two centuries; the struggle to rebuild his country and unify its people; and the continuing fight against racism around the world.
"Racism is a blight on the human conscience. The idea that any people can be inferior to another, to the point where those who consider themselves superior define and treat the rest as sub-human, denies the humanity even of those who elevate themselves to the status of gods."
This colour photograph depicts Mandela giving his historic speech to Parliament on July 11, 1996.
The photograph also features Lord MacKay of Clashfern (the Lord Chancellor), and Betty Boothroyd (Speaker of the House of Commons), both of whom also gave speeches that day.
The photograph is signed boldly by all three in black ink. Mandela has also dated his signature "10.4.99".
The photograph is framed and glazed, and measures 24.5 x 34cm.