His governmentfocused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Sony PCG-31311T Battery
Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.
A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, Mandela attended Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Living in Johannesburg, Sony PCG-51111T Battery
he became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. After the Afrikaner nationalists of the National Party came to power in 1948 and began implementing the policy of apartheid, he rose to prominence in the ANC's 1952 Defiance Campaign, was elected President of the Transvaal ANC Branch and oversaw the 1955 Congress of the People. Sony PCG-81111T Battery
Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and, with the ANC leadership, was prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961 but was found not guilty. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the South African Communist Party he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Sony PCG-81311T Battery
in 1961, leading a bombing campaign against government targets. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.
Mandela served 27 years in prison, first on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. Sony VPCF138FC Battery
An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Becoming ANC President, Mandela published his autobiography and led negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory. Sony VPCF219FC Battery
He was elected President and formed aGovernment of National Unity in an attempt to defuse ethnic tensions. As President, he established a new constitution and initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Sony VPCS135EC Battery
Continuing the former government's liberal economic policy, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho. Sony VPCS136EC Battery
He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela subsequently became an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Mandela has been an embattled figure for much of his life. Right-wing critics denounced him as a terrorist and communist sympathiser. Sony VPCS138EC Battery
He nevertheless gained international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Soviet Order of Lenin. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, Sony VPCS139GC Battery
where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata ("Father"); he is often described as "the father of the nation".
Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in the village of Mvezo in Umtatu, then a part of South Africa's Cape Province. Given the forename Rolihlahla, a Xhosa term colloquially meaning "troublemaker", Sony VPCYA15EC Battery
in later years he became known by his clan name, Madiba. His patrilineal great-grandfather, Ngubengcuka, was ruler of the Thembu people in the Transkeian Territories of South Africa's modern Eastern Cape province. One of this king's sons, named Mandela, became Nelson's grandfather and the source of his surname. Sony VPCYA16EC Battery
Because Mandela was only the king's child by a wife of the Ixhiba clan, a so-called "Left-Hand House", the descendants of his cadet branch of the royal family were morganatic, ineligible to inherit the throne but recognized as hereditary royal councillors.Nonetheless, his father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, was a local chief and councillor to the monarch; Sony VPCYA25EC Battery
he had been appointed to the position in 1915, after his predecessor was accused of corruption by a governing white magistrate. In 1926, Gadla, too, was sacked for corruption, but Nelson would be told that he had lost his job for standing up to the magistrate's unreasonable demands. Sony VPCYA26EC Battery
A devotee of the god Qamata, Gadla was a polygamist, having four wives, four sons and nine daughters, who lived in different villages. Nelson's mother was Gadla's third wife, Nosekeni Fanny, who was daughter of Nkedama of the Right Hand House and a member of the amaMpemvu clan of Xhosa. Sony VPCYB15JC Battery
Later stating that his early life was dominated by "custom, ritual and taboo", Mandela grew up with two sisters in his mother's kraal in the village of Qunu, where he tended herds as a cattle-boy, spending much time outside with other boys. Both his parents were illiterate, but being a devout Christian, Sony VPCYA17GH/R Battery
his mother sent him to a local Methodist school when he was about seven. Baptised a Methodist, Mandela was given the English forename of "Nelson" by his teacher.When Mandela was about nine, his father came to stay at Qunu, where he died of an undiagnosed ailment which Mandela believed to be lung disease. Sony VPCCW2S8E/W Battery
Feeling "cut adrift", he later said that he inherited his father's "proud rebelliousness" and "stubborn sense of fairness".
His mother took Mandela to the "Great Place" palace at Mqhekezweni, where he was entrusted under the guardianship of Thembu regent, Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo. Sony VPCCW2Z1E/B Battery
Although he would not see his mother again for many years, Mandela felt that Jongintaba and his wife Noengland treated him as their own child, raising him alongside their son Justice and daughter Nomafu. As Mandela attended church services every Sunday with his guardians, Christianity became a significant part of his life. Sony VPCY11S1E Battery
He attended a Methodist mission school located next to the palace, studying English, Xhosa, history and geography. He developed a love of African history, listening to the tales told by elderly visitors to the palace, and becoming influenced by the anti-imperialist rhetoric of Chief Joyi. Sony VPCY11S1E/S Battery
At the time he nevertheless considered the European colonialists as benefactors, not oppressors. Aged 16, he, Justice and several other boys travelled to Tyhalarha to undergo the circumcision ritual that symbolically marked their transition from boys to men; the rite over, he was given the name "Dalibunga".Sony VPCW1 Battery
Intending to gain skills needed to become a privy councillor for the Thembu royal house, Mandela began his secondary education at Clarkebury Boarding Institute in Engcobo, a Western-style institution that was the largest school for black Africans inThembuland. Sony VPCW1E8R/BU Battery
Made to socialise with other students on an equal basis, he claimed that he lost his "stuck up" attitude, becoming best friends with a girl for the first time; he began playing sports and developed his lifelong love of gardening. Completing his Junior Certificate in two years, in 1937 he moved to Healdtown, Sony VPCY11AGJ Battery
the Methodist college in Fort Beaufort attended by most Thembu royalty, including Justice. The headmaster emphasised the superiority of English culture and government, but Mandela became increasingly interested in native African culture, making his first non-Xhosa friend, Sony VPCY11AHJ Battery
a Sotho language-speaker, and coming under the influence of one of his favourite teachers, a Xhosa who broke taboo by marrying a Sotho. Spending much of his spare time long-distance running and boxing, in his second year Mandela became a prefect.
With Jongintaba's backing, Sony VPCY11AVJ Battery
Mandela began work on a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree at the University of Fort Hare, an elite black institution in Alice, Eastern Cape with around 150 students. There he studied English, anthropology, politics, native administration and Roman Dutch law in his first year, desiring to become an interpreter or clerk in the Native Affairs Department. Sony VPCY11M1E Battery
Mandela stayed in the Wesley House dormitory, befriending Oliver Tambo and his own kinsman, K.D. Matanzima. Continuing his interest in sport, Mandela took up ballroom dancing, and performed in a drama society play about Abraham Lincoln. A member of the Students Christian Association, Sony VPCY11S1E Battery
he gave Bible classes in the local community, and became a vocal supporter of the British war effort when the Second World War broke out. Although having friends connected to the African National Congress (ANC) and the anti-imperialist movement, Mandela avoided any involvement. Sony VPCY11V9E Battery
Helping found a first-year students' House Committee which challenged the dominance of the second-years, at the end of his first year he became involved in a Students' Representative Council (SRC) boycott against the quality of food, for which he was temporarily suspended from the university; he left without receiving a degree. Sony VPCY11V9E/S Battery
Returning to Mqhekezweni in December 1940, Mandela found that Jongintaba had arranged marriages for him and Justice; dismayed, they fled to Johannesburg viaQueenstown, arriving in April 1941. Mandela found work as a night watchman at Crown Mines, his "first sight of South African capitalism in action",Sony VPCY219FJ/S Battery
but was fired when the induna (headman) discovered he was a runaway. Staying with a cousin in George Goch Township, Mandela was introduced to the realtor and ANC activist Walter Sisulu, who secured him a job as an articled clerk at law firm Witkin, Sidelsky and Eidelman. Sony VPCY21AFJ Battery
The company was run by a liberal Jew, Lazar Sidelsky, who was sympathetic to the ANC's cause. At the firm, Mandela befriended Gaur Redebe, a Xhosa member of the ANC and Communist Party, as well as Nat Bregman, a Jewish communist who became his first white friend. Sony VPCY21AGJ Battery
Attending communist talks and parties, Mandela was impressed that Europeans, Africans, Indiansand Coloureds were mixing as equals. However, he stated later that he did not join the Party because its atheism conflicted with his Christian faith, Sony VPCY21AHJ Battery
and because he saw the South African struggle as being racially based rather than class warfare. Becoming increasingly politicised, in August 1943 Mandela marched in support of a successful bus boycott to reverse fare rises. Continuing his higher education, Mandela signed up to a University of South Africacorrespondence course, working on his BA at night. Sony VPCY21AVJ Battery
Earning a small wage, Mandela rented a room in the house of the Xhoma family in the Alexandra township; although rife with poverty, crime and pollution, Alexandra always remained "a treasured place" for him. Although embarrassed by his poverty, he briefly courted a Swazi woman before unsuccessfully courting his landlord's daughter. Sony VPCY21S1E/L Battery
In order to save money and be closer to downtown Johannesburg, Mandela moved into the compound of the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association, living among miners of various tribes; as the compound was a "way station for visiting chiefs", he once met the Queen Regent of Basutoland. Sony VPCY21S1E/P Battery
In late 1941, Jongintaba visited, forgiving Mandela for running away. On returning to Thembuland, the regent died in winter 1942; Mandela and Justice arrived a day late for the funeral. After passing his BA exams in early 1943, Mandela returned to Johannesburg to follow a political path as a lawyer rather than become a privy councillor in Thembuland. Sony VPCY21S1E/SI Battery
He later stated that he experienced no epiphany, but that he "simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise."
Beginning law studies at the University of Witwatersrand, Mandela was the only native African student, and though facing racism, he befriended a number of liberal and communist European, Sony VPCCW1E8R/WU Battery
Jewish, and Indian students, among them Joe Slovo, Harry Schwarz and Ruth First. Joining the ANC, Mandela was increasingly influenced by Sisulu, spending much time with other activists at Sisulu's Orlando house, including old friend Oliver Tambo. Sony VPCCW1S1E Battery
In 1943, Mandela met Anton Lembede, an African nationalist virulently opposed to a racially united front against colonialism and imperialism or to an alliance with the communists.Despite his friendships with non-blacks and communists, Mandela supported Lembede's views, Sony VGP-BPS13 Battery
believing that black Africans should be entirely independent in their struggle for political self-determination. Deciding on the need for a youth wing to mass mobilise Africans in opposition to their subjugation, Mandela was among a delegation that approached ANC President Alfred Bitini Xuma on the subject at his home in Sophiatown; Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13A/B Battery
the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) was founded on Easter Sunday 1944 in the Bantu Men's Social Centre in Eloff Street, with Lembede as President and Mandela as a member of the executive committee.
At Sisulu's house, Mandela met Evelyn Mase, an ANC activist from Engcobo, Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13B/B Battery
Transkei, who was training at the time to become a nurse. Married on 5 October 1944, after initially living with her relatives, they rented House no. 8115 in Orlando from early 1946. Their first child, Madiba "Thembi" Thembekile, was born in February 1946, while a daughter named Makaziwe was born in 1947, Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13/S Battery
dying nine months later of meningitis. Mandela enjoyed home life, welcoming his mother and sister Leabie to stay with him. In early 1947, his three years of articles ended at Witkin, Sidelsky and Eidelman, and he decided to become a full-time student, subsisting on loans from the Bantu Welfare Trust. Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13A/S Battery
In July 1947, Mandela rushed Lembede to hospital, where he died; he was succeeded as ANCYL president by the more moderate Peter Mda, who agreed to co-operate with communists and non-blacks, appointing Mandela ANCYL secretary. Mandela disagreed with Mda's approach, Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13B/S Battery
in December 1947 supporting an unsuccessful measure to expel communists from the ANCYL, considering their ideology un-African. In 1947, Mandela was elected to the executive committee of the Transvaal ANC, serving under regional president C.S. Ramohanoe. Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13/Q Battery
When Ramohanoe acted against the wishes of the Transvaal Executive Committee by co-operating with Indians and communists, Mandela was one of those who forced his resignation.
In the South African general election, 1948, in which only whites were permitted to vote, Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery
the Afrikaner-dominated Herenigde Nasionale Party under Daniel François Malan took power, soon uniting with the Afrikaner Party to form the National Party. Openly racialist, the party codified and expanded racial segregation with the new apartheid legislation. Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13B/Q Battery
Gaining increasing influence in the ANC, Mandela and his cadres began advocating direct action against apartheid, such as boycotts and strikes, influenced by the tactics of South Africa's Indian community. Xuma did not support these measures and was removed from the presidency in a vote of no confidence, Sony VGP-BPS21 Battery
replaced by James Moroka and a more militant cabinet containing Sisulu, Mda, Tambo and Godfrey Pitje; Mandela later related that "We had now guided the ANC to a more radical and revolutionary path." Having devoted his time to politics, Mandela failed his final year at Witwatersrand three times; he was ultimately denied his degree in December 1949. Sony VGP-BPS21A Battery
Mandela took Xuma's place on the ANC National Executive in March 1950. That month, the Defend Free Speech Convention was held in Johannesburg, bringing together African, Indian and communist activists to call an anti-apartheid general strike. Mandela opposed the strike because it was not ANC-led, but a majority of black workers took part, Sony VGP-BPS21B Battery
resulting in increased police repression and the introduction of the Suppression of Communism Act, 1950, affecting the actions of all protest groups. In 1950, Mandela was elected national president of the ANCYL; at the ANC national conference of December 1951, Sony VGP-BPS21/S Battery
he continued arguing against a racially united front, but was outvoted. Thenceforth, he altered his entire perspective, embracing such an approach; influenced by friends like Moses Kotane and by the Soviet Union's support for wars of national liberation, Mandela's mistrust of communism also broke down. Sony VGP-BPS21A/b Battery
He became influenced by the texts of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, and embraced dialectical materialism. In April 1952, Mandela began work at the H.M. Basner law firm, though his increasing commitment to work and activism meant he spent less time with his family. Sony VGP-BPS26 Battery
In 1952, the ANC began preparation for a joint Defiance Campaign against apartheid with Indian and communist groups, founding a National Voluntary Board to recruit volunteers. Deciding on a path of nonviolent resistance influenced by Mohandas Gandhi, some considered it the ethical option, but Mandela instead considered it pragmatic. Sony VGP-BPL26 Battery
At a Durban rally on 22 June, Mandela addressed an assembled crowd of 10,000, initiating the campaign protests, for which he was arrested and briefly interned in Marshall Square prison. With further protests, the ANC's membership grew from 20,000 to 100,000; Sony VGP-BPS26A Battery
the government responded with mass arrests, introducing the Public Safety Act, 1953 to permit martial law. In May, authorities banned Transvaal ANU President J. B. Marks from making public appearances; unable to maintain his position, he recommended Mandela as his successor. Sony VGP-BPS22 Battery
Although the ultra-Africanist Bafabegiya group opposed his candidacy, Mandela was elected regional president in October.
On 30 July 1952, Mandela was arrested under the Suppression of Communism Act and stood trial as a part of the 21 accused – among them Moroka, Sisulu and Dadoo – in Johannesburg. Sony VGP-BPL22 Battery
Found guilty of "statutory communism", their sentence of nine months' hard labour was suspended for two years. In December, Mandela was given a six-month ban from attending meetings or talking to more than one individual at a time, making his Transvaal ANU presidency impractical. Sony VGP-BPS22A Battery
The Defiance Campaign meanwhile petered out. In September 1953, Andrew Kunene read out Mandela's "No Easy Walk to Freedom" speech at a Transvaal ANC meeting; the title was taken from a quote by Indian independence leader Jawaharlal Nehru, a seminal influence on Mandela's thought. Sony VAIO PCG-3B1M Battery
The speech laid out a contingency plan for a scenario in which the ANC was banned. This Mandela Plan, or M-Plan, involved dividing the organisation into a cell structure with a more centralised leadership.
Mandela obtained work as an attorney for the firm Terblanche and Briggish, before moving to the liberal-run Helman and Michel, Sony VAIO PCG-3D1M Battery
passing qualification exams to become a full-fledged attorney. In August 1953, Mandela and Oliver Tambo opened their own law firm, Mandela and Tambo, operating in downtown Johannesburg. The only African-run law firm in the country, it was popular with aggrieved blacks, often dealing with cases of police brutality. Sony VAIO PCG-3G2M Battery
Disliked by the authorities, the firm was forced to relocate to a remote location after their office permit was removed under the Group Areas Act; as a result, their custom dwindled. Though a second daughter, Makaziwe Phumia, was born in May 1954, Mandela's relationship with Evelyn became strained, and she accused him of adultery. Sony VAIO PCG-5R1M Battery
Evidence has emerged indicating that he was having affairs with ANC member Lillian Ngoyi and secretary Ruth Mompati; persistent but unproven claims assert that the latter bore Mandela a child. Disgusted by her son's behaviour, Nosekeni returned to Transkei, while Evelyn embraced the Jehovah's Witnesses and rejected Mandela's obsession with politics. Sony VAIO PCG-7162M Battery
Mandela came to the opinion that the ANC "had no alternative to armed and violent resistance" after taking part in the unsuccessful protest to prevent the demolition of the all-black Sophiatown suburb of Johannesburg in February 1955.He advised Sisulu to request weaponry from the People's Republic of China, Sony VAIO PCG-7181M Battery
but while supporting the anti-apartheid struggle, China's government believed the movement insufficiently prepared for guerilla warfare. With the involvement of the South African Indian Congress, the Coloured People's Congress, the South African Congress of Trade Unions and theCongress of Democrats, Sony VAIO PCG-41112M Battery
the ANC planned a Congress of the People, calling on all South Africans to send in proposals for a post-apartheid era. Based on the responses, a Freedom Charter was drafted by Rusty Bernstein, calling for the creation of a democratic, non-racialist state with the nationalisation of major industry. Sony VAIO PCG-7153M Battery
When the charter was adopted at a June 1955 conference in Kliptown attended by 3000 delegates, police cracked down on the event, but it remained a key part of Mandela's ideology.
Following the end of a second ban in September 1955, Sony VAIO PCG-71312M Battery
Mandela went on a working holiday to Transkei to discuss the implications of the Bantu Authorities Act, 1951 with local tribal leaders, also visiting his mother and Noengland before proceeding to Cape Town. In March 1956 he received his third ban on public appearances, restricting him to Johannesburg for five years, but he often defied it. Sony VAIO PCG-7144M Battery
His marriage broke down as Evelyn left Mandela, taking their children to live with her brother. Initiating divorce proceedings in May 1956, she claimed that Mandela had physically abused her; he denied the allegations, and fought for custody of their children. Sony VAIO PCG-7191L Battery
She withdrew her petition of separation in November, but Mandela filed for divorce in January 1958; the divorce was finalised in March, with the children placed in Evelyn's care. During the divorce proceedings, he began courting and politicising a social worker, Winnie Madikizela, who he married in Bizana on 14 June 1958. Sony VAIO PCG-3C1M Battery
She later became involved in ANC activities, spending several weeks imprisoned.
On 5 December 1956, Mandela was arrested alongside most of the ANC Executive for "high treason" against the state. Held in Johannesburg Prison amid mass protests, they underwent a preparatory examination in Drill Hall on 19 December, before being granted bail. Sony VAIO PCG-3F1M Battery
The defence's refutation began on 9 January 1957, overseen by defence lawyer Vernon Berrangé, and continued until adjourning in September. In January 1958, judge Oswald Pirow was appointed to the case, and in February he ruled that there was "sufficient reason" for the defendants to go on trial in the Transvaal Supreme Court. Sony VAIO PCG-3H1M Battery
The formal Treason Trialbegan in Pretoria in August 1958, with the defendants successfully applying to have the three judges – all linked to the governing National Party – replaced. In August, one charge was dropped, and in October the prosecution withdrew its indictment, Sony VAIO PCG-3J1M Battery
submitting a reformulated version in November which argued that the ANC leadership committed high treason by advocating violent revolution, a charge the defendants denied.
In April 1959, militant Africanists dissatisfied with the ANC's united front approach founded the Pan-African Congress (PAC); Sony VAIO PCG-8141M Battery
Mandela's friend Robert Sobukwe was elected president, though Mandela thought the group "immature". Both parties campaigned for an anti-pass campaign in May 1960, in which Africans burned the passes that they were legally obliged to carry. One of the PAC-organized demonstrations was fired upon by police, Sony VAIO PCG-8161M Battery
resulting in the deaths of 69 protesters in theSharpeville massacre. In solidarity, Mandela publicly burned his pass as rioting broke out across South Africa, leading the government to proclaim martial law. Under the State of Emergency measures, Mandela and other activists were arrested on 30 March, Sony VAIO PCG-3C2M Battery
imprisoned without charge in the unsanitary conditions of the Pretoria Local prison, while the ANC and PAC were banned in April. This made it difficult for their lawyers to reach them, and it was agreed that the defence team for the Treason Trial should withdraw in protest. Sony VAIO PCG-5N2M Battery
Representing themselves in court, the accused were freed from prison when the state of emergency was lifted in late August. Mandela used his free time to organise an All-In African Conference near Pietermaritzburg,Natal, in March, at which 1,400 anti-apartheid delegates met, agreeing on a stay-at home protest to mark 31 May, Sony VAIO PCG-5P1M Battery
the day South Africa became a republic. On 29 March 1961, after a six-year trial, the judges produced a verdict of not guilty, embarrassing the government.