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Nelson Mandela Biography, First black president of South Africa

Nelson Mandela Biography

Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in the fight against apartheid in South Africa and a symbol of resistance against injustice worldwide. His life story is one of courage, resilience, and the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.

Nelson Mandela Biography Overview

Category Information
Full Name Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
Birthdate July 18, 1918
Place of Birth Mvezo, Cape Province, Union of South Africa
Death Date December 5, 2013
Place of Death Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Nationality South African
Occupation Anti-Apartheid Revolutionary, Politician, Philanthropist
Known For Leading the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, First black president of South Africa, Nobel Peace Prize laureate
Political Party African National Congress (ANC)
Imprisonment 27 years (1962–1990) for his anti-apartheid activities
Presidential Term 1994–1999 (First black president of South Africa)
Nobel Peace Prize Awarded in 1993

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Nelson Mandela’s Early Life

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in the village of Mvezo in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. He was born into the Thembu royal family, and his father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, was a chief. Mandela’s given name, Rolihlahla, means “pulling the branch of a tree” or more colloquially, “troublemaker.”

Mandela was the first member of his family to receive a formal education. He attended a missionary school and later the Clarkebury Boarding Institute and Healdtown, a Methodist college. In 1940, Mandela began studying law at the University of Fort Hare, but he was expelled for participating in a student protest.

Nelson Mandela’s Political Activism

In the 1940s, Mandela became increasingly involved in politics, joining the African National Congress (ANC), which fought against apartheid, the system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the South African government. He helped form the ANC Youth League in 1944, advocating for more radical tactics in the struggle against apartheid.

In 1952, Mandela opened the first black law firm in South Africa with his friend Oliver Tambo. He also organized various nonviolent protests, such as the Defiance Campaign and the Congress of the People, which called for a nonracial and democratic South Africa.

Nelson Mandela Imprisonment

In 1962, Mandela was arrested for his anti-apartheid activities and sentenced to five years in prison. In 1964, while serving this sentence, he was put on trial for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government. Mandela famously gave a speech during the trial in which he declared that he was prepared to die for his beliefs. He was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to Robben Island, a notorious prison off the coast of Cape Town.

During his 27 years in prison, Mandela became a symbol of resistance to apartheid both in South Africa and around the world. He continued to advocate for equality and justice, even in the face of harsh conditions and isolation.

Nelson Mandela’s Release and Presidency

Mandela was released from prison on February 11, 1990, after intense international pressure and negotiations. Upon his release, he worked tirelessly to negotiate an end to apartheid and establish a democratic government in South Africa.

In 1994, Mandela was elected as the first black president of South Africa in the country’s first multiracial elections. During his presidency, Mandela focused on reconciliation and nation-building, creating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address the crimes of apartheid and promote healing and forgiveness.

Nelson Mandela’s Later Years and Legacy

After leaving office in 1999, Mandela remained active in public life, advocating for various causes, including HIV/AIDS awareness and conflict resolution. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his efforts to dismantle apartheid peacefully.

Nelson Mandela passed away on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95, but his legacy continues to inspire people around the world. He is remembered as a champion of justice, equality, and human rights, whose courage and leadership changed the course of history in South Africa and beyond.

Nelson Mandela Biography UPSC

Nelson Mandela, born in 1918, was a pivotal anti-apartheid activist in South Africa. After co-founding the ANC Youth League, he campaigned for racial equality, leading nonviolent protests and opening the first black law firm. Imprisoned for 27 years for his activism, Mandela emerged as a global symbol of resilience. Released in 1990, he negotiated an end to apartheid, becoming South Africa’s first black president in 1994. Mandela’s legacy of reconciliation and justice endures worldwide.

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Nelson Mandela Biography FAQs

Who was Nelson Mandela short bio?

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African politician and activist.

Why was Mandela imprisoned for 27 years?

Mandela wound up spending 27 years in prison for leading the African National Congress (ANC), which opposed apartheid policies that kept South Africa's Black residents segregated, often in inhumane conditions.

Why did Nelson Mandela get the Nobel Peace Prize?

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 1993 to Nelson R. Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.

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