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Nelson Mandela Biography (Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela): South African President and Human Rights Activist
Famous for : being imprisoned for 27 years because of his support for an anti-apartheid South Africa and being leader of the African National Congress. Mandela was the president of South Africa from 1994 through to 1999 and is an influential world speaker on human rights issues.
Mandela details : Born - July 18, 1918 South Africa / Lives - South Africa


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Nelson Mandela spent his life as an activist against apartheid and, after spending 27 years in prison under accusations of governmental sabbotage from his actions with the African National Congress (ANC) and the Umkhonto we Sizwe, Mandela surfaced as a leader of the anti-apartheid movement. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his work with the movement and played a leading role in ending apartheid a year later, becoming South Africa's first president under the new multi-racial democracy.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in the village of Mvezo in Transkei, South Africa to Chief Henry Mandela of the Tembu Tribe. Although he was a descendent of African royalty, Mandela's family branch could not inherit any throne due to the colonial rule at the time as well as complicated family lineage. Instead, Mandela was supposed to inherit his father's rule as Chief after his death in 1928.

Mandela, however, had different plans. He began attending school at the age of seven, the first in his family of 13 brothers and sisters to focus on academics. The name of "Nelson" was given to him by his Methodist teacher who found Rolihlahla difficult to pronounce. After his father's death in 1928, the local Regent became his legal guardian and Mandela attended a mission school near the Regent's palace.

After studying at Clarkebury Boarding Institute, Mandela studied at the Wesleyan college in Fort Beaufort and eventually studied for his B.A. at Fort Hare University. While studying at the university, Mandela befriended Oliver Tambo, a man who would become a very close lifelong friend. He never finished his studies at Fort Beaufort due to his involvement in a boycott by the Students' Representative Council for which the university asked him to leave.

After discovering that the Reagent had arranged a marriage for him, Mandela fled to Johannesburg where he ended up as a clerk at a law firm. During his time with the firm he completed his B.A. via correspondence with the University of South Africa. He then began studying law at the University of Witwatersrand.

The apartheid-driven National Party won the 1948 election and drove Mandela to join the ANC Defiance Campaign of 1952 and the 1955 Congress of the People, both of which supported the anti-apartheid cause. He also opened the Mandela and Tambo firm with his friend and helped under-represented black South Africans to obtain legal representation.

Mandela was arrested for treason on December 5, 1956 after taking part in a non-violent protest and was eventually acquitted.

Due to increasing conflict between political sections of South Africa, Mandela helped open the armed wing of the ANC, the Umkhonto we Sizwe. Although he believed in peaceful protests and the work of Gandhi, Mandela also recognized that their non-violent actions were being fought with violent means, a tactic that was only increasing in danger. He helped arrange a sabotage of targets of the current government in order to end apartheid.

Mandela ended up running from the government for seventeen months during which time he visited other governments in hopes of raising awareness for the fight against apartheid in South Africa. He was caught on August 5, 1962 due to information given to the South African government by the CIA and sentenced to five years for illegally leaving the country. Two years into his imprisonment, Mandela, along with other ANC leaders, were sentenced to life in prison for attempting sabotage and treason in previous years.

Mandela spent the next eighteen years on Robben Island, a prison island off the coast of South Africa near Cape Town. During his time there, Mandela was forced into hard labor at a lime quarry as part of his classification as a political prisoner. He received very little contact with the outside world, but still managed to gain support and respect within the confines of the prison. His reputation grew throughout the country and the world with attempted rescues on his behalf.

While in prison, Mandela studied law via correspondence with the University of London and received a Bachelor of Laws degree.

In 1982, Mandela was moved to Pollsmoor Prison with other political prisoners in order to further seclude him from influencing both the prison population and other outsiders. During this time, President P.W. Botha offered Mandela freedom in exchange for giving up the struggle against apartheid. Mandela refused, remaining in prison to continue his fight against the oppressive government.

When P.W. Botha fell ill, his replacement, Frederik Willem de Klerk, released Mandela in February of 1990, the same month in which he reversed the ban against the ANC and other organizations that supported the anti-apartheid cause. After his release, Mandela took his position as ANC leader and began negotiations with the exiting ruling party.

His talks with Klerk and his advocacy of non-violent rule won Mandela the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. One year later, South Africa held its first democratic elections for all citizens and the ANC won 62% of the votes. Mandela was inaugurated as President on May 10, 1994, South Africa's first black President. Klerk served as his first deputy.

Nelson Mandela served as president of South Africa until 1995, helping to unite the socially segregated racial groups within the country. He has been married three times, has six children and twenty grandchildren.



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Nelson Mandela Quotes Nelson Mandela Quotes


Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.
Nelson Mandela - Freedom - Negotiation - Deals

Friends, Comrades and fellow South Africans. I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all. I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.
Nelson Mandela - Freedom - Peace -
Democracy - Commitment - Inspirational

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