Nelson Mandela – Facts & Summary

Nelson Mandela was the one who led the struggle for the abolition of the apartheid regime in South Africa as well as one of the most respected statesmen in the world.

His charisma, sense of humor and ability to laugh at himself, his ability to forgive those who ill-treated him and the entire amazing story of his life – all of this explains in one way or another the truly universal love and respect that Mandela enjoyed.


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Nelson Mandela biography

“The disciple of Kings” was born in 1918 in the Madiba clan, which is a part of the Tembo nation, in the small village of Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. He was often called by the name of his clan – Madiba in his homeland until his death.


In 1943, he joined the party called African National Congress (ANC) and at first he was an ordinary activist but later he founded and headed the Youth League.

Having received diplomas of a lawyer, Mandela and his friend Oliver Tambo opened a law office in Johannesburg in 1952. Tambo and Mandela led a vigorous campaign against apartheid – the system imposed by National Party of the white minority that forced the black majority to live in special reservations.


In 1956, Nelson Mandela was charged with state treason, along with 156 activists of the ANC, but the charges against him were dropped after the process that had lasted for four years.

In 1960, as a result of the massacre at Sharpeville 69 blacks were killed. The ANC was outlawed, and Mandela and other activists had to go underground.

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Soon he was arrested and charged with sabotage and coup d’état attempt. Defending himself in court Mandela used his tribune to promote his beliefs about democracy, freedom and equality.

In the spring of 1964 he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In the course of just one year – between 1968 and 1969 – Mandela’s mother died and his eldest son was killed in a car accident. However, the authorities didn’t allow him to attend the funeral.


In 1980, Oliver Tambo, who was in exile, launched an international campaign for the release of Nelson Mandela. The world community intensified the sanctions, which were first introduced in 1967 and were directed against the apartheid regime.

As a result, in 1990, South African President FW de Klerk cancelled ban on the ANC activity and Nelson Mandela was released. He was met by a huge crowd of people.


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”- Nelson Mandela said.

In December 1993 Nelson Mandela and President Frederik de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Five months later, for the first time in the history of South Africa general democratic elections were held, where Nelson was elected the president. The challenge for Mandela as the head of state was the fight against poverty.

When Mandela was 80 years old, he married Grace Machel, the widow of former Mozambican president Samora Machel. He continued traveling the world, meeting with world leaders, attending conferences and receiving awards even after he left the presidency.

After retiring from the political arena Mandela appeared in public mainly in connection with the activities of the Mandela Foundation, a charitable organization that he founded. When he was 89 he formed a Council of Elders, uniting the leading politicians of the world to address some of the most complex global problems.


Nelson Mandela was one of the most recognizable symbols of the human rights movement in the XX century – a man whose commitment to the cause of freedom for his people has been inspiring human rights activists around the world.

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Nelson Mandela’s Life Story

Nelson Mandela’s Life Story

The 13-minute video documentary of Mandela’s life has been provided by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which has given the UN permission to use it.