Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918.
Nelson Mandela is known as the leader of the African National Congress (ANC) and for his lifelong struggle against apartheid (enforced racial separation), which was instituted in South Africa in 1948. He went on trial for treason in 1956-1961 and was acquitted in 1961.
After the banning of the ANC in 1960, Nelson Mandela argued for the setting up of a military wing within the ANC.
During his years in prison, Nelson Mandela’s reputation grew steadily. He was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in South Africa and became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength. He consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom.
Nelson Mandela was released on February 11, 1990. After his release, he plunged himself wholeheartedly into his life’s work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier. In 1991, at the first national conference of the ANC held inside South Africa after the organization had been banned in 1960, Mandela was elected President of the ANC while his lifelong friend and colleague, Oliver Tambo, became the organisation’s National Chairperson.
Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Critics labelled him as a Marxist and a terrorist, though he nevertheless gained international acclaim for his activism, having received more than 250 honors, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal Of Freedom, the Soviet Order Of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna.
He is held in deep respect within South Africa. He is often described as “The Father Of The Nation”. Mandela died following a long illness on 5 December 2013, aged 95, at his home in Johannesburg.