Nelson Mandela Dies at Age 95

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By Athena Yenko | December 6, 2013 9:28 AM EST

Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid hero for South Africans and worldwide democratic icon died in the age of 95 after battling a lung infection which haunted him for years.

Mandela fought the anti-apartheid government since he 20 years old. He joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1942, and for 20 years, he had made it his mission to lead the campaign of peaceful and non-violent protest against the South African Government and its racist regimes.


 In 1993, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with then South African president F.W. de Klerk for their unfaltering efforts to fight the apartheid system in their country.

In 1995, Mandela became South Africa's first black president.

In 2009, Mandela's date of birth which falls on July 18 was acknowledged as Mandela Day. The acknowledgement was aimed in promoting global peace as well as to celebrate Mandela's legacy to the South Africans.

Early Life

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa, on July 18, 1918 to parents Henry Mphakanyiswa of the Thembu Tribe and Nongaphi Nosekeni.

He studied at the University College of Fort Hare and finished law from the University of Witwatersrand.

In 1942, he joined the African National Congress, and in 1948, he started his defiance against the national Party's apartheid policies.

In 1956-1961, he faced trials for treason and was only acquitted in 1961. ANC was also banned in South African during this time.

In June of 1961, one ANC official took Mandela's proposal of defiance and announced that those who will take his lead will not be hindered by any ANC officials. This decision paved the way to the establishment of Umkhonto we Sizwe, an armed wing of the ANC fighting against the South African government. Umkhonto we Sizwe was tagged as a terrorist organisation by South African government and the United States.

In 1962, Mandela was imprisoned and sentenced to serve prison time of up to 5 years with hard labour.

In 1963, Mandela was accused of plotting to overthrow the government by violence that he was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 12 1964.

From 1964 to 1982, he was locked up at Robben Island prison and was later transferred to Pollsmoor prison. Even inside prison, Nelson Mandela's reputation obtained worldwide recognition. He was hailed as South African's most significant black leaders and was looked up to as patriotic symbol against the country's apartheid system. He refused to give up his political beliefs even in exchange of his freedom. It was during this time of imprisonment that he acquired the lung infection that will later claim his life.

Finally, in Feb 11 1990, Mandela was released from prison but he immediately went back doing his mission of eradicating the apartheid system in his country.

In 1991, at the first national conference of the ANC after decades of being banned from South Africa, Mandela was elected President of the organisation and continued his anti-apartheid battle.

Famous Quotes:

(Copyright 2010 by Nelson R. Mandela and The Nelson Mandela Foundation or From Nelson Mandela by Himself: the Authorised Book of Quotations)

On Challenges:

Difficulties break some men but make other. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.- FROM A LETTER TO MINNIE MANDELA, WRITTEN ON ROBBEN ISLAND, 1 FEB 1975

On Friendship:

I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.- FROM HIS UNPUBLISHED AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MANUSCRIPT WRITTEN IN PRISON, 1975

On Life:

What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead. - 90TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION OF WALTER SISULU< WALTER SISULU HALL, RANDBURG, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, 18 MAY 2002

On Death:

Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for eternity.- FROM AN INTERVIEW FOR THE DOCUMENTARY MANDELA, 1994

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