SUMMARY: Nelson Mandela (b. 18 July 1918) President of South Africa
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Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela is known for his opinion on topical issues. A former President of South Africa, Mandela has spent 27 years in prison for crimes while he was leading a revolt against apartheid.

Early Life
Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918. Mandela’s father had 4 wives and Mandela was born to his 3rd wife. At age seven he attended school, he was the first member of his family to attend school. At age nine, his father passed away from tuberculosis.

Mandela then attended a Wesleyan mission school and was initiated at age 16. He then attended Clarkebury Boarding Institute and completed his Junior Certificate in 2 years versus the normal 3. At age 19, he attended Fort Hare University and became involved in a boycott by the Students’ Representative Council. He was asked to leave Fort Hare.

He was told his marriage had been arranged, unsatisfied with this, Mandela fled to Regent’s estate and then to Johannesburg. Mandela worked as a guard at a mine until he was fired for running away from his arranged marriage. He then began work as an article clerk at a law firm. During this time, he completed his B.A. degree at the University of South Africa. He then began law studies with the University of Witwaterstrand.

Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1944. He was involved in resistance against the ruling National Party’s apartheid policies after 1948. Mandela was arrested with 150 others on December 5, 1956 and charged with treason. He was later acquitted. The ANC was banned in 1960 and Mandela argued for the set up of a military wing inside the ANC. By 1961, Mandela became the leader of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (translated as Spear of the Nation, also abbreviated as MK), which he co-founded.

Mandela spear-headed a sabotage campaign against military and government targets. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years imprisonment. Mandela was brought to trial a year later for plotting to overthrow the government with violence. Mandela’s statement from the dock received international publicity. His closing statement was:

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Mandela was sentenced to life in prison. During his time in prison, his popularity grew and he was accepted as a significant leader of freedom. Mandela was released from prison on February 11, 1990. His release speech was broadcast all over the world and Mandela made it clear the fight for freedom was not over.

In 1994, Africa’s first democratic election was held. Mandela won 62% of the vote and was inaugurated on May 10, 1994 as Africa’s first black President. Mandela retired in 1999 from the Presidency.

After his retirement, Mandela went on to serve for a variety of human rights organizations. Mandela has received over 100 awards, honors and other recognitions for his life’s work. Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. To this day, he continues to be an example of freedom and still voices his opinion on numerous political topics. To the people of South Africa, he is known as Madiba. It is an honorary title adopted by elders of Mandela’s clan.