Nelson Mandela Biography

nelson mandela biography

Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after the first multi-racist election in South African history. Mandela was imprisoned from 1960 to 1990 for his role in fighting the racist policies established by the ruling white minority.

Revered by his people as a national symbol of the struggle for equality, Mandela is considered one of the most influential political figures of the twentieth century. He and South African Prime Minister F. W. D. Clarke were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for breaking apartheid.


Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in the village of Maveso in Transkei, South Africa. The third of Gadla’s four wives was Henry Mfakaniswa and Nokafi Nusekeni. In Mandela’s mother tongue, Josa, Rolihlahla means “problem solver.” The title Mandela came from one of his grandfathers. Mandela’s father was ahead of the Thembu tribe in the Majevo region, but he served under the British government’s ruling.

When Mandela came of age as a descendant of the monarchy, he was expected to play his father’s role. But when Mandela was only a child, his father revolted against the British government by refusing to appear before a British magistrate. For this, he snatched his ruler and his wealth and was forced to leave his home.

Mandela and his three sisters returned to their home village of Coonoor with their mother. There the family lived in more modest conditions. The family lived in raw huts and the crops they grew and the cattle and sheep saved them. He worked with Mandela and other village boys to raise sheep and cattle. He later remembered it as one of the happiest times of his life.

Many evenings, villagers sat around the fire and children’s stories passed through generations, telling what life was like before the white man arrived. From the middle of the seventeenth century, the Europeans (first the Dutch and then the British) came to South African soil and gradually took control of the native South African tribes. The discovery of diamonds and gold in South Africa in the nineteenth century further strengthened the Europeans’ control over the nation.

By 1900, most of South Africa was under European control. In 1910, the British colonies merged with the Boer (Dutch) Republic to form the South African Union, a part of the British Empire. Taking away their homeland, many Africans were forced to work for white employers in low-paying jobs. The young Nelson Mandela, who lives in his small village, has yet to feel the effects of centuries of domination by the white minority.

Mandela’s Education

Although uneducated, Mandela’s parents wanted their son to go to school. At the age of seven, Mandela enrolled in a local mission school. On the first day of class, each child was given an English first name; Rolihallah was named “Nelson.”

When he was nine years old, Mandela’s father died. According to his father’s last wishes, Mandela was sent to live in Mechekejeneni, the capital of Thembur, where he could continue his studies under the direction of another tribal chief, Jangintaba Dalindebo.

At first sight of the chief’s estate, Mandela was amazed at his huge house and beautiful gardens. Mandela went to another mission school in McGuinness and became a devout Methodist in his years with the Dalindebo family. Mandela also attended a tribal meeting with the chief, who taught him how to lead a leader.

When Mandela was 16, he was sent to a boarding school in a city hundreds of miles away. After graduating in 1937 at the age of 19, Mandela enrolled in a Methodist college called Heldtown.

A skilled student, Mandela was also active in boxing, soccer and long-distance running. In 1939, after receiving his credentials, Mandela began his postgraduate studies in arts at the prestigious Fort Hare College, finally planning to attend law school. But Mandela did not finish school at Fort Hare; Instead, he was expelled after participating in a student protest.

He returned to Chief Dalindibo’s house, where he was met with frustration and despair. A few weeks after returning to the country, Mandela received shocking news from Chauffeur.

Dalindebo arranged for both his son, the judge, and Nelson Mandela to marry the women of his choice. No young man agrees to an orderly marriage, so the two decide to flee to Johannesburg, the capital of South Africa. Desperate to pay for their travels, Mandela and the Chief Justice stole two oxen and sold them for train fare. Mandela’s fortunes changed when he met Lazarus Sedelsky, a liberal white lawyer.

Move to Johannesburg

Arriving in Johannesburg in 1940, Mandela found the shaky city an exciting place. Soon, however, he became aware of the injustices in black people’s lives in South Africa. Before moving to the capital, Mandela lived among other blacks. But in Johannesburg, he saw inequality in the race. Blacks lived in slums with no electricity or running water; Whites stayed away from gold mine resources. Mandela left with a cousin and quickly got a job as a security guard.

He was fired when his employees found out about his bull’s theft and escape from his benefactor. After learning of Mandela’s desire to become an attorney, Sedelsky, who ran a large law firm serving both blacks and whites, offered Mandela the opportunity to work as a lawyer.

Mandela was gratefully accepted and took the job at the age of 23, even finishing his BA through a correspondence course. Mandela rented a house in a local black town. He studied by candlelight every night and walked about six miles to work and back because he didn’t have a bus fare. Skidelsky provided him with an old suit, which Mandela patched and wore almost every day for about five years.

Committed to the Cause

In 1942, Mandela finally finished his BA and was admitted to the University of Witwatersrand as a part-time law student. In “Wits,” he met several people who would work with him for the release in the next few years.

Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC), which worked to improve the situation of blacks in South Africa In 1943. That same year, Mandela staged a successful bus boycott staged by thousands of Johannesburg residents protesting high bus fares. As he became more enraged by racial discrimination, Mandela deepened his commitment to the war of liberation.

He helped form the Youth League, which sought to recruit young members and transform the ANC into a more militant organization that would fight for equal rights. Under the law at the time, Africans were prohibited from owning land or houses in the city, their wages were five times lower than whites, and no one could vote.

In 1944, Mandela, 26, married nurse Evelyn Mass, 22, and moved into a small rented house. The couple had a son, Madiba (“Thembi”), in February 1945 and a daughter, Makaziwe, in 1947. Their daughter died of meningitis as a child. They welcomed another son, McGatho, in 1950, and in 1954, they had a second daughter, Makaziwe, after his late sister.

After the 1948 general election, where the White National Party claimed victory, its first official law was to establish racism. Through this law, the long-standing, Hafizard system of secession in South Africa became a formal, institutional policy backed by laws and regulations. The new policy will even determine by race what area each group can live in. Public blacks and whites should be separated from each other in public transport, theaters and restaurants, even on the beach and in all walks of life.

The Defiance Campaign

Mandela graduated from law school in 1952 and began his first practice of black law in Johannesburg with his colleague Oliver Tambo. The course was busy from the beginning. Clients included Africans who faced racist injustices, such as property grabbing by whites and beatings by the police. Despite opposition from white judges and lawyers, Mandela was a successful lawyer. He had a dramatic, affectionate style in the courtroom.

In the 1950s, Mandela became more actively involved in the protest movement. He was elected president of the ANC Youth League In 1950. In June 1952, the ANC, along with the Indian and “racist” (hereditary) communities, began a period of non-violent protest marked by discriminatory laws – known as the “so-called” contempt campaign. Mandela led the campaign by recruiting, training and organizing volunteers.

The campaign lasted six months, with various cities and towns in South Africa taking part. Volunteers have only broken the law by entering certain areas for whites. Thousands of people, including Mandela and other ANC leaders, were arrested during the six months. He and other members of the group were convicted of “statutory communism” and sentenced to nine months of hard labor, but the sentence was suspended.

The campaigns aired during the Defense Campaign increased ANC membership to another 10,000.

Arrested for Treason

The government has twice banned Mandela, meaning he could not attend public meetings or even family gatherings because of his involvement with the ANC. His 1953 ban lasted two long years. Mandela, along with others from the ANC’s executive committee, drafted the Charter of Independence in June 1955 and presented it during a special session of the Congress of the People.

The charter called for equal rights for all, regardless of race, and called on all citizens to acquire the skills to vote, own land, own property, and keep paid jobs. In short, the charter called for a non-ethnic South Africa.

A few months after the certificate was presented, police raided the homes of hundreds of ANC members and arrested them. Mandela and 155 others were charged with treason. They were released pending a trial date.

Mandela’s marriage to Andalin fell under the pressure of his long absence; They divorced in 1957 after 13 years of marriage. Through work, Mandela met Winnie Madikizela, a social worker who sought his legal advice. They were married in June 1956, a few months before Mandela’s trial began in August.

Mandela was 39 years old, Winnie was just 21. The trial would last three years; During that time, Winnie had two daughters, Zenani and Zindziswa.

Sharpeville Massacre

The trial, which was relocated to Pretoria, moved at a snail’s pace. The real trial did not begin until August 1959. Charges were brought against all but 30 of the accused. Then, on March 21, 1960, the trial was interrupted by a national crisis.

In early March, another anti-apartheid group, the Pan-African Congress (PAC), staged massive protests in protest of the strict “law pass” so that Africans could always carry identity cards with them to be able to travel across the country. During one such protest in Sharpeville, police opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing 69 and injuring more than 400. This tragic incident, which was publicly condemned, was called the Sharpeville Massacre.

Mandela and other ANC leaders called for a halt to the home strike as well as a national day of mourning. Thousands of people took part in most of the peaceful protests, but some riots broke out. The South African government declared a state of emergency and martial law was enacted.

Mandela and his co-defendants were sent to prison, and both the ANC and the PAC were formally banned. The sedition case resumed on April 25, 1960 and continued on March 29, 1961. To the surprise of many, the court dismissed the charges against all, citing a lack of evidence that the defendants planned to violently overthrow the government.

To many it was a reason to celebrate, but it was not the time to celebrate Nelson Mandela. He was about to enter a new and dangerous chapter in his life.

The Black Pimpernel

Prior to the verdict, the banned ANC held an illegal meeting and decided that he would go underground after trial if Mandela was released. He was clearly in charge of giving speeches and gaining support for the liberation movement. The National Action Council (NAC) was formed, and Mandela was named its leader.

Following the ANC’s plan, Mandela fled directly after the trial. He hid in the first of several safe houses, most of them located in the Johannesburg area. Knowing that the police were looking for him everywhere, Mandela kept moving.

Only when he went out at night, when he felt safest, did Mandela disguise himself as a chef. He made unannounced appearances, gave lectures in places considered safe, and even broadcast radio. The character called her “Black Pimperle” after the title character in The Scarlet Pimpernelle novel.

In October 1961, Mandela moved to a farm in Hivonia, just outside Johannesburg. She was safe there for a while and could even enjoy the trip from Winnie and their daughters.

“Spear of the Nation”

In response to the government’s increasingly violent crackdown on protesters, Mandela formed a new ANC force, the military, a military unit he named the “Speaker of the Nation”, also known as the MK. MK will be used to target military installations, power facilities and transport connections using sabotage tactics. Its purpose was to harm state property, but not to harm individuals.

The MK’s first attack took place in December 1961, when they bombed an electric power plant and empty government offices in Johannesburg. Weeks later, another bombing was carried out. White South Africans were shocked to realize that they could no longer accept their safety.

In January 1962, Mandela, who had never been outside South Africa in his life, was trafficked to attend the Pan-African Conference. He hoped for financial and military assistance from other African countries, but did not succeed. In Ethiopia, Mandela received training on how to operate a gun and how to make small explosives.


Fugitive 16 months later, Mandela was arrested on August 19, 1962, when police seized the car he was driving. He was arrested on charges of illegally leaving the country and inciting a strike. The trial began on October 15, 1962. Rejecting the advice, Mandela spoke for himself. He used his time in court to condemn the government’s immoral, discriminatory policy. Despite his sympathetic remarks, he was sentenced to five years in prison. Mandela was 44 years old when he entered the Prandoria local prison.

Captured in Pretoria for six months, Mandela was taken to Robben Island in May 1963 in an isolated prison off the coast of Cape Town. After a few weeks there, Mandela learns that he will go to court again, about time for sabotage. He will be charged along with several other MK members arrested at the Rivonia firm. During the trial, Mandela acknowledged his role in forming the MK. He emphasized his belief that protesters were only working for their equal political rights. Mandela ended his speech by saying that he was ready to die because of him. Mandela and his seven co-defendants were convicted on June 19, 1964. They could have been sentenced to death for such serious charges, but everyone was sentenced to life in prison. All the men (except one white prisoner) were sent to Robben Island.

Life at Robben Island

On Robben Island, each prisoner had a small house with a single light that lasted 24 hours. The prisoners lay on the floor on a thin mat. The meals consisted of cold yogurt and an occasional piece of vegetable or meat (although Indian and Asian prisoners received a more generous ration than their black parts).

Prisoners spent about ten hours a day working hard, digging stones from a limestone kiln.

The hardships of prison life made it difficult for anyone to maintain their dignity, but Mandela was determined not to be defeated by his imprisonment. She was the spokesperson and leader of this group and was known by her clan name “Madiba”

Over the years, Mandela has led a number of protests, hunger strikes, and labor shortages. He also demanded reading and study facilities. In most cases, the protests ended.

During his imprisonment, Mandela suffered personal losses. His mother died in January 1968 and his 25-year-old son Thembi died the following year in a car accident. The heartbroken Mandela was not allowed to attend the funeral.

In 1969, Mandela learned that his wife, Winnie, had been arrested on charges of communist activities. He spent 18 months in solitary confinement and was tortured. The imprisonment of Winnie was the cause of Mandela’s crisis.

“Free Mandela” Campaign

Even after his entire imprisonment, Mandela remains a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement, still inspiring his countrymen. After a “free Mandela” campaign in 1980 attracted worldwide attention, the government was somewhat deprived. In April 1982, Mandela and four other Rivonia prisoners were transferred to the mainland Polesmur prison. Mandela is 62 years old and he was 19 years old on Robben Island.

The situation was much improved by the people of Robben Island. Prisoners were allowed to read newspapers, watch TV, and receive visitors. The government wanted to prove to the world that he was being treated well. Prime Minister PW in an effort to curb violence and recover a failed economy. Botha declared January 31, 1985, when he agreed to give up violent protests Mandela Nelson Mandela will be released. However, Mandela rejected any offer that was not conditional.

In December 1988, Mandela moved to a private home in Victor Verser Prison outside Cape Town and later appeared for secret talks with the government. Little was accomplished until Botha resigned from his post in August 1989 and was dismissed from his cabinet. His successor, F. W. D. Clarke, was ready for peace talks. He agreed to meet Mandela.

Freedom at Last

At Mandela’s urging, de Clarke released Mandela’s fellow political prisoners unconditionally in October 1989. Mandela and de Klerk had long discussions about the illegal position of the ANC and other opposition parties, but no specific agreement was reached. Then, on February 2, 1990, de Clarke made an announcement that stunned Mandela and all of South Africa.

De Clarke introduced a number of sweeping reforms to ban the ANC, the PAC, and the Communist Party. He has since lifted sanctions since the 1986 state of emergency and ordered the release of all non-violent political prisoners.

On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela was released unconditionally from prison. After 27 years in custody, he was a free man at the age of 71. Thousands of people cheered in the streets and were welcomed to Mandela’s home.

Shortly after returning home, Mandela learned that his wife, Winnie, had fallen in love with another man in his absence. Mandela separated in April 1992 and later divorced.

Mandela knew that despite the impressive changes, there was still much work to be done. He immediately worked for the ANC, returning to South Africa to talk to various groups and to act as a negotiator for further reform.

In 1993, Mandela and de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their joint efforts to restore peace in South Africa.

President Mandela

On April 29, 1994, South Africa held its first election in which blacks were allowed to vote. The ANC, which has a majority in parliament, got 63 percent of the vote. Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president just four years after his release from prison. Almost three centuries of white domination came to an end.

Mandela visited many Western countries in an effort to persuade leaders to work with South Africa’s new government. He also sought to help restore peace in several African countries, including Botswana, Uganda and Libya. Mandela soon gained the admiration and respect of many outside of South Africa.

During Mandela’s tenure, he addressed the needs of all South Africans for housing, running water and electricity. The government also returned the land taken from them and made it legal again for blacks to own their own land.

In 1998, Mandela married Graca Machel on his eighth birthday. Machel, 52, was the widow of Mozambique’s former president.

Mandela did not seek re-election in 1999. He was replaced by his vice president, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela retired to the village of Qunu in his mother’s village, Transkei.

Mandela was involved in raising funds for an HIV / AIDS epidemic in Africa. He organized the AIDS facility “46664 concert” in 2003, hence the name of his prison ID number. In 2005, Mandela’s own son, McGatho, died of AIDS at the age of 44.

In 2009, the UN General Assembly designated July 18, Mandela’s birthday, as Nelson Mandela International Day. Nelson Mandela died on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95, at his home in Johannesburg.

Retirement and Later Career

Mandela retired from active politics in the 1999 general election. Through his busy schedule, he maintained a busy schedule to raise money to build schools and clinics in rural suburbs of South Africa and to act as a mediator in the Burundi civil war.

Mandela was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 2001. In June 2004, at the age of 85, he announced his formal retirement from public life and returned to his native village of Qunu.

The Elders

On July 18, 2007, Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, co-founded The Elders, a group of world leaders working publicly and privately to find solutions to some of the world’s top problems. The group included Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, Ila Bhatt, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Lee Zhao Singh, Mary Robinson and Muhammad Yunus.

Elderly influences across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and their actions include promoting peace and equality for women, demanding an end to atrocities, and supporting initiatives to address humanitarian crises and promote democracy.

In addition to delivering medicine for peace and equality, Mandela was committed to the fight against AIDS in his later years both nationally and globally. His son Makgatho died of the disease in 2005.

Relationship With Barack Obama

Mandela was last seen in public in the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa. He was mostly out of the spotlight in the following years and chose to spend most of his time in the Coonoor childhood community south of Johannesburg.

However, during his visit to South Africa in 2011, he met Michelle Obama, the first lady of the United States, the wife of President Barack Obama. Barack Obama also met Mandela during his 2005 visit to the United States when he was a junior senator from Illinois. .


Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95. After suffering a lung infection in January 2011, Mandela was briefly hospitalized in Johannesburg in early 2012 for surgery for a stomach ailment.

He was released a few days later and later returned to Qunu. Mandela will be hospitalized several times over the next few years – December 2012, March 2013 and June 2013 – to undergo further tests and treatment for his recurrent lung infections.

After visiting her hospital in June 2013, Machel canceled a scheduled visit to London to be with her husband, and her daughter, Jenny Dalamini, returned to South Africa from Argentina to be with her father.

South African President Jacob Zuma Mandela issued a statement in March 2013 seeking support in the form of a prayer in response to public health concerns: “We urge the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba and to” keep her family and their thoughts ”

On the day of Mandela’s death, Zuma issued a statement speaking to Mandela’s legacy: “Wherever we are, no matter where we are in the world, let us reaffirm his vision of a society … where there is no exploitation, oppression or persecution.” Settled by another one. ”

Movie and Books

In 1994, Mandela published his autobiography, The Long Walk to Freedom, most of which he wrote in secret while in prison. The book inspired the 2013 movie Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom.

He published several books on his life and struggles, including No Easy Walk to Freedom; Nelson Mandela: Fighting is my life; And Mandela’s favorite African folktale.

Mandela Day

In 2009, Mandela’s birthday (July 18) was declared Mandela Day, an international day to promote international peace and celebrate the legacy of the South African leader. According to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the annual event encourages citizens around the world to return to the way Mandela lived his life.

A statement on the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s website read: “Mr Mandela has given years of his life fighting for the right to human life. The only thing we’re asking everyone is to give them 67 minutes, whether it’s supporting your chosen donor or serving your local community. ”

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