Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Former President of South Africa

Nelson Mandela was a social rights activist, politician and philanthropist who became South Africa’s first Black president from 1994 to 1999. After becoming involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his 20s, Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1942. For 20 years, he directed a campaign of peaceful, nonviolent defiance against the South African government and its racist policies.

Beginning in 1962, Mandela spent 27 years in prison for political offenses. In 1993, Mandela and South African President F.W. de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to dismantle the country's apartheid system. For generations to come, Mandela will be a source of inspiration for civil rights activists worldwide.

EASY LIFE

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in Mvezo, Umtata (now Mthatha), Transkei, South Africa. He had thirteen siblings by the same father, and two mothers. His parents were Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa and Nosekeni Nonqaphi . His given name was Rolihlahla, a Xhosa name meaning pulling the branch of a tree or informally, troublemaker. He was a member of the Thembu royal family. On his first day of school, he was given the name Nelson by his teacher Miss Mdingane. Giving children in Africa English names was a custom among Africans during that period.

Mandela's father died when he was twelve. Mandela then lived with the local regent who sent him to school. He was the first member of his family to go to a school. He was expelled from Fort Hare University in 1941, because he led a group of students on political strike. After he was expelled, Nelson found a job as a night watchman.

Anti-apartheid Activity

In 1944, Mandela helped start the African National Congress Youth League. He was soon a high-ranked leader of the group.

He wanted to free South Africa without violence, but the government started killing and hurting protesters. He then started Umkhonto we Sizwe with Walter Sisulu and other people in the African National Congress that he admired, such as Mahatma Gandhi.

A trial was later held and became known as the Rivonia Trial. Mandela was on trial because of his involvement in sabotage and violence in 1962. He was sentenced to life in prison, and was sent to Robben Island, but was transferred to Victor Verster Prison in 1988. In 1990, he was let out of Victor Verster Prison after 26.5 years. He left prison after de Klerk removed a ban on the African National Congress. He ordered Mandela's release. He then received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, with former State President of South Africa, Frederik Willem de Klerk.

PRESIDENCY

Mandela won the general election in April 1994. His inauguration was in Pretoria on 10 May 1994. Many people around the world saw his inauguration on television. The event had 4000 guests, including world leaders from different backgrounds. Mandela was the first South African President elected in a completely democratic election.
As South Africa's first black President, Mandela became head of the Government of National Unity which was under controlled by the African National Congress (or ANC). The ANC had no knowledge in politics, but had representatives from the National Party and Inkatha. In keeping with earlier promises, de Klerk became first Deputy President, while Thabo Mbeki was chosen second.

Although Mbeki had not been his first choice for President, Mandela soon trusted Mbeki throughout his presidency. This allowed Mbeki to organize policy details. Mandela moved into the presidential office at Tuynhuys in Cape Town. He would settle into the nearby Westbrooke Manor. Westbrooke was renamed Genadendal. Preserving his Houghton home, he also had a house built in his home village of Qunu.He visited Qunu regularly, walking around the area, meeting with local people who lived there, and judging tribal problems.

He faced many illness at age 76. Although having energy, he felt left out and lonely. He often entertained celebrities, such as Michael Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, and the Spice Girls. He became friends with a number of rich business people, like Harry Oppenheimer and British monarch Elizabeth II on her March 1995 state visit to South Africa. This resulted in strong judgment from ANC anti-capitalists. Despite his surroundings, Mandela lived simply, donating a third of his $552,000 wealth to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, which he had founded in 1995. In that same year, Mandela published his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.

Although in favor of freedom of the press, Mandela was important of much of the country's media because it was owned and run by many middle-class whites. Mandela became known for his use of Batik shirts, known as Madiba shirts, even on normal events. Mandela had never planned on serving a second term in office. Mandela gave his farewell speech on 29 March 1999, after which he retired. Mandela's term ended on 14 June 1999. Thabo Mbeki succeeded Mandela as President of South Africa.

Nobel Prize

He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership for his anti-apartheid activism in 1993. After receiving the prize he said:

"We stand here today as nothing more than a representative of the millions of our people who dared to rise up against a social operation whose very essence is war, violence, racism, oppression, repression and the impoverishment of an entire people."

QUICK FACTS

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it... The brave man is not who he does not feel afraid, but we who conquers that fear."


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Imprisoned for 27 years


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Nobel Peace Prize Winner


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Six Children


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African name means "Troublemaker"


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Wrote Long Walk to Freedom Autobiography


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