- NAME: Nelson Mandela
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, World Leader, Writer
- BIRTH DATE: July 18, 1918
- DEATH DATE: December 05, 2013
- EDUCATION: Clarkebury Boarding Institute, Wesleyan College, University College of Fort Hare, University of London, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Mveso, Transkei, South Africa
- PLACE OF DEATH: Johannesburg, South Africa
- Full Name: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
- AKA: Nelson Mandela
- AKA: Rolihlahla
- Nickname: Madiba
- Originally: Rolihlahla Mandela
- Nickname: Black Pimpernel
Best Known For
Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South Africa in 1994, serving until 1999. A symbol of global peacemaking, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Nelson Mandela - Legacy (2:01)
Nelson Mandela - Early Life (2:57)
After being in prison for more than 25 years, Nelson Mandela was released and became the first black President of South Africa.
Despite overwhelming odds and the outlawing of the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela remained dedicated to his cause for freedom.
Nelson Mandela was born in a small South African village on July 18th, 1918. From here he would go on to become one of the greatest African leaders in history.
Watch a short video about Nelson Mandela and the obstacles that he overcame for equality in South Africa.
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Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in Mveso, Transkei, South Africa. Becoming actively 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. In 1993,
"I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days."
"Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end."
"Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity."
"Those who conduct themselves with morality, integrity and consistency need not fear the forces of inhumanity and cruelty."
"Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do."
"Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way."
"When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw."
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it....The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
"Prison itself is a tremendous education in the need for patience and perseverance. It is above all a test of one's commitment."
"I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended."
"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
"If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."
"Man's goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished."
"I was made, by the law, a criminal, not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for, because of what I thought, because of my conscience."
"Wherever we are in the country, wherever we are in the world, let us reaffirm his vision of a society ... in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another."
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. 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. Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg on December 5, 2013, at age 95.
Nelson Mandela was born Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18, 1918, in the tiny village of Mvezo, on the banks of the Mbashe River in Transkei, South Africa. "Rolihlahla" in the Xhosa language literally means "pulling the branch of a tree," but more commonly translates as "troublemaker."
Nelson Mandela's father, who was destined to be a chief, served as a counselor 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, an even smaller village north of Mvezo. The village was nestled in a narrow grassy valley; there were no roads, only foot paths that linked the pastures where livestock grazed. The family lived in huts and ate a local harvest of maize, sorghum, pumpkin and beans, which was all they could afford. Water came from springs and streams and cooking was done outdoors. Mandela played the games of young boys, acting out male rights-of-passage scenarios with toys he made from the natural materials available, including tree branches and clay.
At the suggestion of one of his father's friends, Mandela was baptized in the Methodist Church. He went on to become the first in his family to attend school. As was custom at the time, and probably due to the bias of the British educational system in South Africa, Mandela's teacher told him that his new first name would be Nelson.
When Mandela was 9 years old, his father died of lung disease, causing his life to change dramatically. He was adopted by Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, the acting regent of the Thembu people—a gesture done as a favor 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 traveled by motorcar to Mqhekezweni, the provincial capital of Thembuland, to the chief's royal residence. Though he had not forgotten his beloved village of Qunu, he quickly adapted to the new, more sophisticated surroundings of Mqhekezweni.
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