Nelson Mandela

This man is no stranger to the world; Nelson Mandela became the first black president in South Africa and won the noble peace prize in 1993. Nelson Mandela’s father, who was destined to be a chief, served as a counsellor to tribal chiefs for several years, but lost both his title and fortune over a dispute with the local colonial magistrate.


Mandela was only an infant at the time, and his father’s loss of status forced his mother to move the family to Qunu, a smaller village north of Mvezo. Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in Mvezo, Transkei, South Africa.


Becoming actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his 20s, in 1994, Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president. In 2009, Mandela’s birthday (July 18) was declared “Mandela Day” to promote global peace and celebrate the South African leader’s legacy.


When Mandela was 9 years old, his father died of lung disease, causing his life to change significantly. He was adopted by Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, the acting regent of the Thembu people, a gesture done as a favour to Mandela’s father, who, years earlier, had recommended Jongintaba be made chief.


Mandela subsequently left the carefree life he knew in Qunu, fearing that he would never see his village again. He travelled by motorcar to Mqhekezweni, the provincial capital of Thembuland, to the chief’s royal residence.


He spent years in prison for opposing apartheid, the policy by which the races were separated and whites were given power over blacks in South Africa. Upon his release from prison, Mandela became the first president of a black-majority-ruled South Africa in which apartheid was officially ended.


During the twenty-seven years that Mandela spent in prison, his example of quiet suffering was just one of many pressures on South Africa’s apartheid government. Public discussion of Mandela was illegal, and he was allowed few visitors.


In 1988 Mandela was hospitalized with an illness, and after his recovery he was returned to prison under somewhat less harsh conditions. By this time, the situation within South Africa was becoming desperate for the ruling white powers. Protest had spread, and international pressures for the end of apartheid were increasing. More and more, South Africa was isolated as a racist state.


In late 2001, Mandela joined the outcry against terrorism when he expressed his support for the American bombing of Afghanistan after terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. By January 2002, however, Mandela had modified his support somewhat after South African Muslims criticized him for appearing to be insensitive to the sufferings of the Afghan people.


After suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection, Mandela died on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95. Mandela’s body lay in state from the 11th to the 13th of December at the Union Buildings in Pretoria and a state funeral was held on 15 December 2013 in Qunu, South Africa.


Mandela was a private person who often concealed his emotions and confided in very few people.Privately, he lived an austere life, refusing to drink alcohol or smoke, and even as President made his own bed,although was also renowned for his mischievous sense of humour, his legacy lives on.


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