Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela was born in Qunu, a small village near Mthatha in the former Transkei, (Eastern Cape) on 18 July 1918. As a member of the Madiba clan, he was raised amongst Xhosa royalty.
He was a paramount figure of the formation of the ANC Youth League and, in 1991, he was elected President of the African National Congress.
Upon returning from Algiers after military training, Nelson Mandela was arrested and charged with attempting to overthrow the Apartheid Government. Convicted of sabotage and treason, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island (South Africa’s Alcatraz).
The South African government responded to international pressure by releasing him on 11 February 1990 after 27 years imprisonment. He and South African President FW de Klerk jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize 1993 in recognition of their combined efforts towards reconciliation and peace in this country.
On 10 May 1994, he became the first black President of South Africa after a landslide victory in the April 1994 elections; it was the country’s first ever election where black people were allowed to vote. As an act of reconciliation, he appointed FW de Klerk, his formal rival, as one of two vice-presidents.
He retired from public life in June 1999, and is currently residing in Houghton, Johannesburg with his wife, Graca Machel. They exchanged vows on his 80th birthday in 1998.
He regularly visits his birthplace annually hosting local children to a Christmas Party. He has also founded the Nelson Mandela Children’s Home, who take in AIDS orphans. They are educated and cared for by the tireless efforts made by volunteers and staff of the home. The 46664 Concerts, which were organized by Nelson Mandela and included legendary performing artists, were held in Cape Town and Johannesburg respectively, the profits being donated to the home for children.
This great man, whose second name, Rholihlahla, means “shaker of trees” or “trouble-maker”, united his country by urging citizens to stand up for themselves; to “make a noise” and “shake things up” for the further development and just treatment of all human beings, world-wide; to reconciliation, not revenge.
Nelson Mandela remains South Africa’s best known and loved hero. He is the world’s icon of peace and reconciliation, and throughout history he will be seen as personifying “a spirit of freedom” internationally.
Other interesting topics:
- Geographical information of South Africa
- Nelson Mandela Bay
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