Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
1.83 m or 6feet 0inches
Death Date: December 5,2013
Nelson Mandela was a South African politician and revolutionary who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. Mandela was born in a small village on the 18th of July, 1918, and what is known as the Province of the Cape of Good Hope. He then attended a local Methodist school where he was given a name Nelson by one of his teachers.
Mandela attended secondary school where he became interested in Native African culture, and was made a prefect. He went on to study at the University of Fort Hare, but left before graduating. After discovering that he was to marry a local girl in an arranged marriage, Mandela fled to Johannesburg, where he met an African National Congress member named Walter Sisulu.
Whilst interested in the policies of the ANC, Mandela did not join the party, and began a correspondence degree in law, which he obtained in 1943. He then became more involved with the ANC to try, and bring about political change in South Africa. In 1948, the National Party came to power in South Africa, and began to implement a policy of forced segregation based on race known as Apartheid.
The ANC then began staged campaigns of passive resistance against the Apartheid laws, and Mandela began to rise through the party rank whilst working as a lawyer. In 1952, Mandela became one of the ANC’s deputy presidents. And towards the end of the 1950s, Mandela and others began to move the ANC in a more radical direction, in the face of increasing discrimination by the South African government under Apartheid.
During this time, Mandela was put on trial for treason. The trial lasted six years, and he was eventually acquitted in 1961, which greatly embarrassed the South African government. Mandela began traveling around the country in secret, rebuilding the ANC’s new structure, and organizing strikes. Mandela then co-founded the MK Spear of the Nation Group, which was an armed group that organized acts of sabotage to exert pressure on the government, bombing military, and non-civilian targets.
Mandela then traveled to Ethiopia, Egypt, and Tunisia, as well as other African countries. He traveled to London, and then returned to Ethiopia where he trained for two months in guerrilla warfare before returning to South Africa. In 1962, Mandela was arrested and charged with inciting strikes, and leaving the country without permission, and was sentenced to five years in prison.
In 1963, documents were found linking Mandela to some of the MK group’s activities, and he was charged with sabotage, and conspiracy to overthrow the government. The original case was thrown out, but the prosecution reformulated the charges, and on the 12th of June, 1964, Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment despite international protests.
Mandela was imprisoned in a small concrete cell, measuring little more than 2 meters square on the Robben Island for the next 18 years. Mandela continued to voice support for an end to Apartheid, studying, and debating with other prisoners, and becoming an international symbol of resistance to Apartheid.
In 1982, Mandela was moved to a prison in Cape Town where he remained until 1990, when the South African government responded to internal and international pressure, and released Mandela, and lifted the ban on the ANC. Mandela was made leader of the ANC in 1991. Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with South African President F. W. De Klerk in 1993, and in 1994, Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black President, in the country’s first multi-racial election.
Mandela then embarked on a series of social reforms, and attempts to reconcile the various races of South Africa. He stepped down as ANC leader in 1997, and retired in 1999. He then embarked on a busy public life, where he worked on various philanthropy projects, including heavy involvement with work against HIV and AIDS.
In 2004, he retreated from public life, although continued some of his charitable work, and spoke out against war and oppression across the world. Mandela’s health began to decline, and he died in his home in Johannesburg on the 5th of December, 2013, at the age of 95.