Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born July 18, 1918, in Mvezo, South Africa. He fought for the rights of black people. He was a black nationalist and the first black person to become the president of South Africa (1994-1999). Nelson Mandela’s struggle and negotiation with the South African president F.W. De Klerk in the 1900s led to the demolition of the apartheid system in the nation to a majority rule. In 1993, Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to both.
Early Life and Work
Nelson Mandela was born in the house of Chief Henry Mandela of the Madiba clan, the Xhosa-speaking Tembu people. After his father’s death, Jongintaba, the regent of the Tembu raised young Nelson. He wanted to become a lawyer so when the time came to gain the chieftainship, he gave it up to pursue his dream. He studied at South African Native College and completed law at the University of Witwatersrand.
In 1994, his desire to help the black people who suffered from racism and discrimination in South Africa grew stronger. So, he joined the African National Congress and became the leader of their Youth League. Around the same time, he met Evelyn Ntoko Mase and married her.
In 1952, with his friend and fellow ANC leader, he started South Africa’s first Black Law practice, specializing in cases from the post-1948 apartheid legislation. In the same year, Mandela played an important role in launching a campaign against South Africa passing laws that required black people to carry passes to enter the areas that the government had termed as “restricted.”
As his campaign grew, so did the support which made Mandela a frequent target of the authorities. In 1956, he and 100 other people were arrested under the charges of treason that were made to harass anti-apartheid activists. He went to trial in 1961 and was eventually released. Although the never-ending court proceedings resulted in a strain on his marriage, he had to divorce his first wife. He later married Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela.
Nelson Mandela’s Arrest
In 1962, Mandela was traveling the continent, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Mali, and Guinea to meet with the African heads and ask for funding so that he can bring majority rule to South Africa. When he returned to South Africa he was charged and arrested for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government. He was given life imprisonment after confessing to the crime on June 12, 1964.
Nelson Mandela stayed in Robben Island prison for 18 years. He has admitted to suffering from a lot of hardships during his time there, he slept on straw mats and did labor work. After 18 year stay in Robben Island Prison, he transferred to Pollsmoor Prison, Cape Town. He stayed there till 1988. Even in prison, his popularity was increasing. UK’s head of state Margaret Thatcher requested that he shall be released.
After turning 70 in Pollsmoor Prison he was transferred to Victor Verster Prison till February 1990.
Life after release
After his release, Mandela toured Asia, Europe, and America meeting the heads of state and encouraging them to support the economic sanctions against South Africa. So, all the people in the country could participate in free and fair elections.
In 1993, US president Bill Clinton awarded Mandela with the Liberty Medal, and soon he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
On May 10, 1994, Nelson Mandela became the president of South Africa. He lived a simple and grounded life even as a president. Mandela donated one-third of his annual income to Nelson Mandela Children Fund which he founded in 1995.
In the December of 1994, Mandela published his autobiography, The Long Walk To Freedom. It was written by Mandela in prison, also adapted into a major motion picture.
Retirement and Legacy
In 1999, President Mandela retired and founded Nelson Mandela Foundation which worked for rural development, fighting HIV AIDS, and school construction. It also grew into an organization that now preserves his memory.
In 2007, the 89-year-old former president helped to create a group of world leaders interested in peace and human rights called The Elders.
Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95 on 5 December 2013. His death saddened the whole world.
How many children does Nelson Mandela have?
He has 7 children.
What are some interesting facts about Nelson Mandela?
Nelson Mandela did a cameo in the movie ‘Malcolm X’. He also has a woodpecker named after him.
How long was Nelson Mandela imprisoned for?
Mandela was in prison for a total of 27 years.