After decades in a Robben Island prison, Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) is released in 1990 and works immediately to bring about the end of apartheid and the initiation of full democratic elections where the black majority population can vote. Mandela wins the race for President of South Africa and takes office in 1994. His immediate challenge is "balancing black aspirations with white fears." The country's still-present racial tensions are shown, in part, through Mandela's security team, which is composed both of new black and old white officials. The black and white groups are immediately hostile to one another despite sharing the same job and goal.