In this historical drama,, Sidney Poitier gives a solid and substantive performance as the founder of the African National Congress who was imprisoned from 1964 - 1990 and recently was elected president of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela is portrayed in this political drama directed by Joseph Sargent as a shrewd, driven, and rigorous moral man whose love affair with freedom is unstinting.

Richard Wesley's screenplay reveals why the South African government led by the conservative hardliner P. W. Botha (Gerry Maritz) is so uneasy about this charismatic black leader in their midst. From prison, Mandela speaks in code to his wife Winnie (Tina Lifford), delivering messages to his followers. He overcomes several physical maladies including tuberculosis. Once F. W. deKlerk (superbly played by Michael Caine) takes over the government, he must rely upon Mandela's counsel and diplomatic powers to avert a race war in the country.

John Gardner has written, "The first and last task of the leader is to keep hope alive." This stirring film depicts the moral leadership of Nelson Mandela and his unswerving commitment to a free and democratic South Africa.