Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, 1918 - 2013

portrait of Nelson Mandela
Photo by South Africa: The Good News (13 May 1998)
Nelson Mandela signature

Born: 18 July 1918, Mvezo, Eastern Cape, Union of South Africa
Died: 5 December 2013, Pretoria, Gauteng Province, South Africa

Rolihlahla was the son of Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, chief of the town of Mvezo, but the father alienated colonial authorities and the family moved to Qunu. When the father died of tuberculosis, the new king of the Thembu tribe adopted Rolihlahla and gave him the surname Mandela. He was the first member of his family to attend school, a Wesleyan mission school where his teacher gave him the English name Nelson. He was initiated into the Thembu tribe at ate sixteen and sent to Clarkebury Boarding Institute which he finished in two years. He attended Fort Hare University for one year before his involvement in a boycott of university policy and was asked to leave. He and another tribal member were told that marriages had been arranged for them, both of them left for Johannesburg to avoid marriage. There Mandela earned a BA from the University of South Africa by correspondence, then studied law at the University of Witwatersrand. He was involved in a number of non-violent campaigns against the white government which led to his arrest and trial for treason in 1956. In 1961 Mandela led the African National Conference's armed wing, organizing a campaign of sabotage against military and governmental targets. He was arrested, with CIA help, the next year he was sentenced to five years. While in prison, new charges were brought against Mandela and group of ANC leaders, all were given life sentences in 1964. During this time Mandela was an intellectual and strategic leader of the ANC, contracted tuberculosis, and received the Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of London External Programme. Responding to a worldwide call for his release, newly-elected president F. W. de Klerk reversed the ban on the ANC and released Mandela in 1990. Mandela was elected president of the ANC and became president of South Africa in the first multi-racial election in 1994, an office he held for five years. In retirement he worked for children's charities and effective treatment for AIDS. He shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with de Klerk and has received high honors from Canada, England, India, Turkey, and the US for his work. Mandela entered hospital at Pretoria on 8 June 2013 and was on life support, legal claims were made that he was in a "permanent vegetative condition" since late June, but he had been in his home for over three months at the time of his death.

Biography from Wikipedia and New York Times obituary

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