Nelson Mandela

Statesman, Military Commander

1918 –

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Who is Nelson Mandela?

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative, multiracial election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.

A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, Mandela attended Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Living in Johannesburg, he became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. After the Afrikaner nationalists of the National Party came to power in 1948 and began implementing the policy of apartheid, he rose to prominence in the ANC's 1952 Defiance Campaign, was elected President of the Transvaal ANC Branch and oversaw the 1955 Congress of the People. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and, with the ANC leadership, was prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961 but was found not guilty. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the South African Communist Party he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961, leading a bombing campaign against government targets. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.

Famous Quotes:

  • “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

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Jul 18, 1918
Also known as
  • His Excellency
  • Methodism
  • Xhosa people
  • South Africa
  • Secondary education, Healdtown Comprehensive School
    (1937 - 1939)
  • University of Fort Hare
    (1939/02 - 1940)
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of South Africa
    (1942 - 1942)
  • University of the Witwatersrand
    (1943 - 1949)
  • University of London International Programmes
    (1962 - )
  • University of London
    (1962 - )
  • Bachelor of Laws, University of South Africa
    ( - 1989)
  • Partner, Mandela and Tambo
Lived in
  • Fort Beaufort, Eastern Cape
    (1937 - )
  • Robben Island
    (1964 - 1982)
  • Transkei
    (1918 - 1937)
  • Johannesburg
  • Qunu, Eastern Cape
  • Pollsmoor Prison
    (1982 - 1990)
  • Alexandra, Gauteng
  • Houghton Estate

on July 23, 2013


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