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Nelson Mandela

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Nelson Mandela in 1993.

Nelson Mandela (18 July 1918 - 5 December 2013) was a South African politician and activist who opposed Apartheid. After being imprisoned for 27 years at Robben Island, he was released and became an important political figure. Mandela was elected president of South Africa in the country's first multiracial elections in 1994, and served until 1999.

Biography[edit | edit source]

He was born on 18 July 1918 in Mvezo, South Africa. Nelson Mandela was actually called "Rolihlahla" (Xhosa: "Troublemaker") by his dad, but at school his name was changed to Nelson as everyone had to have an English name.

Starting in 1944, Mandela fought against discrimination as part of an association called the African National Congress (ANC). In 1962, he was arrested coming into the country with a fake passport, and spent 27 years in the prison on Robben Island. During his time in prison, Mandela became a symbol of the movement against Apartheid, the racist policies which took away the rights of black South Africans and made the white Afrikaners the ruling class. Under Apartheid, the Afrikaners held all the power even though they made up less than 10% of the population, and blacks were not represented at all in the government. People were not allowed to marry people of a different race, and most black people were forced out of their homes and made to live in Bantustans and townships.

After F. W. de Klerk became president of South Africa in 1989, he released Mandela and many other people who opposed Apartheid, and began dismantling the Apartheid system. In this time, Mandela and many other opponents of Apartheid became part of political life. In 1993, he received the Nobel Peace Prize with de Klerk. in the 1994 presidential election, which was the first ever South African election where non-white people could vote, Mandela was elected president of South Africa. During his time as president, Nelson Mandela worked to end discrimination and to bring racial reconciliation. He served until 1999, when he stepped down after one term in government.

Mandela died on 5 December 2013 in Johannesburg, following complications from an infection in his lungs.

See also[edit | edit source]

  • Desmond Tutu, another Apartheid opponent who received the Nobel Peace Prize (in 1984).
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