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A revolutionary, a political leader, a philanthropist, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the first black president of his country - Nelson Mandela is an epitome of democracy and equality.
Early Life And Education
He was born as Rolihlahla Mandela into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa on 18 July, 1918. His mother's name was Noqaphi Nosekeni and father's name was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Henry Mandela. His father was the advisor to the acting king of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. Rolihlahla received the name 'Nelson' on his first day of primary school. He lost his father at the age of 12 and was raised by the Regent at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni.
He attended primary school in Qunu and completed his Junior Certificate at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and later matriculated from a Wesleyan secondary school in Healdtown.
Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Fort Hare but did not complete it. He completed his BA through the University of South Africa. He also began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. However, had to leave the degree unfinished in 1952 due to economic constraints. He finally obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa in 1989.
Political Career And Imprisonment
He got involved in politics around 1944 when he helped to start the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). Though he was practising law with a two-year diploma in addition to his BA degree. he was banned from doing so at the end of 1952 for the first time. On March 21, 1961, police killed 69 unarmed people in a protest in Sharpeville. This led to the first banning of the ANC and PAC (Pan Africanist Congress).
Nelson called for a hunger strike on March 29, 30 and 31,1961 against the government's ignorance towards the discussion of a non-racial constitution. He was arrested on August 5,1961 and was eventually convicted and sentenced to five years in prison on November 7, 1962. On June 12, 1964, he and seven others were sentenced to life imprisonment. He spent 18 years of imprisonment in Robben Island and wasn't even allowed to attend the funerals of his mother and his eldest son.
He was finally released on February 11, 1990, nine days after the unbanning of the ANC and PAC.
Nobel Peace Prize And Presidency
Mandela engaged himself in official talks with the government to end white minority rule in South Africa. In 1993, he won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with President F.W. de Klerk.
On May 10, 1994, he was inaugurated as South Africa's first democratically elected President. However, he stepped down after serving one term in 1999. Upon retirement, he continued working for peace, reconciliation and social justice through the work of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, established in 1999.
Death And Legacy
He passed away at his home in Johannesburg on December 5, 2013. In November 2009, the United Nations declared that his birthday would be celebrated as Nelson Mandela International Day every year. His autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, that depicts stories of his early life and prison, was published in 1994.
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