Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was born in 1918 and became a leader in the anti-apartheid movement when he was in his 20s. In 1942, he joined the African National Congress. He actively campaigned against the government, condemning the racist policies of the regime. He did this for around 20 years but in 1962, he was sent to prison, where he spent the next 27 years. For 18 of these years, he was held captive on Robben Island. Many efforts were made to get the authorities to agree to his release but it was only when de Clerk became president that Mandela was released, on February 11, 1990.

His release made the news around the world and his work to tackle apartheid continued. In 1993, he and the then president of the country, F.W. de Klerk, were awarded a joint Nobel Peace Prize for the work that they had done to break down racism in South Africa. In 1991, he became president of the African National Congress and was elected president of South Africa in 1994. He was 77 at the time and remained president of the country until 1999.

He was married three times and was father of six children, although three of them pre-deceased him. He published his autobiography in 1994. Named the ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, most of the book was written while he was in prison. He is also the author of several other books and a number of films have been made on his life.

Since 2009, July 18th, Nelson Mandela’s birthday is celebrated as the Mandela Day in South Africa. This is a day that is internationally recognized and the aim is to promote equality and peace. The Nelson Mandela Center of Memory asks people to give their time on that day and help make a difference.

Nelson Mandela died on December 5, 2013. He had suffered ill health with a recurring lung condition for several years prior to his death.

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