Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela-2008.jpg
Mandela in Johannesburg in May 2008
1st President of South Africa
In office
10 May 1994 – 16 June 1999
DeputyThabo Mbeki
F. W. de Klerk
Preceded byF. W. de Klerk (State President)
Succeeded byThabo Mbeki
11th President of the
African National Congress
In office
7 July 1991 – 20 December 1997
DeputyWalter Sisulu
Thabo Mbeki
Preceded byOliver Tambo
Succeeded byThabo Mbeki
19th Secretary General of the
Non-Aligned Movement
In office
2 September 1998 – 16 June 1999
Preceded byAndrés Pastrana Arango
Succeeded byThabo Mbeki
Personal details
Rolihlahla Mandela

(1918-07-18)18 July 1918
Mvezo, Cape Province, South Africa
Died5 December 2013(2013-12-05) (aged 95)
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Cause of deathRespiratory infection
Resting placeMandela Graveyard
Qunu, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Political partyAfrican National Congress
Other political
South African Communist Party
Children6 (including Makgatho, Makaziwe, Zenani and Zindziswa)
ParentsNosekeni Fanny
Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa
Alma mater
  • Activist
  • Politician
  • Philanthropist
  • Lawyer
Known forAnti-Apartheid Movement
Notable work(s)
  • Madiba
  • Dalibunga

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (ə/;[1] Xhosa: [xolíɬaɬa mandɛ̂ːla]; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country's first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation. Ideologically an African nationalist and socialist, he served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) party from 1991 to 1997.

A Xhosa, Mandela was born to the Thembu royal family in Mvezo, British South Africa. He studied law at the University of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand before working as a lawyer in Johannesburg. There he became involved in anti-colonial and African nationalist politics, joining the ANC in 1943 and co-founding its Youth League in 1944. After the National Party's white-only government established apartheid, a system of racial segregation that privileged whites, he and the ANC committed themselves to its overthrow. Mandela was appointed President of the ANC's Transvaal branch, rising to prominence for his involvement in the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People. He was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the 1956 Treason Trial. Influenced by Marxism, he secretly joined the banned South African Communist Party (SACP). Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the SACP he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961 and led a sabotage campaign against the government. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1962, and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the state following the Rivonia Trial.

Mandela served 27 years in prison, split between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison, and Victor Verster Prison. Amid growing domestic and international pressure, and with fears of a racial civil war, President F. W. de Klerk released him in 1990. Mandela and de Klerk led efforts to negotiate an end to apartheid, which resulted in the 1994 multiracial general election in which Mandela led the ANC to victory and became president. Leading a broad coalition government which promulgated a new constitution, Mandela emphasised reconciliation between the country's racial groups and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Economically, Mandela's administration retained its predecessor's liberal framework despite his own socialist beliefs, also introducing measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial and served as Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999. He declined a second presidential term, and in 1999 was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela became an elder statesman and focused on combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the charitable Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Although critics on the right denounced him as a communist terrorist and those on the far-left deemed him too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid's supporters, he gained international acclaim for his activism. Widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice, he received more than 250 honours—including the Nobel Peace Prize—and became the subject of a cult of personality. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, and described as the "Father of the Nation".

Early life

Childhood: 1918–1934

Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in the village of Mvezo in Umtata, then part of South Africa's Cape Province.[2] Given the forename Rolihlahla,[3] a Xhosa term colloquially meaning "troublemaker",[4] in later years he became known by his clan name, Madiba.[5] His patrilineal great-grandfather, Ngubengcuka, was king of the Thembu people in the Transkeian Territories of South Africa's modern Eastern Cape province.[6] One of Ngubengcuka's sons, named Mandela, was Nelson's grandfather and the source of his surname.[7] Because Mandela was 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 recognised as hereditary royal councillors.[8]

Nelson Mandela's father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa Mandela (1880–1928), was a local chief and councillor to the monarch; he was appointed to the position in 1915, after his predecessor was accused of corruption by a governing white magistrate.[9] In 1926, Gadla was also sacked for corruption, but Nelson was told that his father had lost his job for standing up to the magistrate's unreasonable demands.[10] A devotee of the god Qamata,[11] Gadla was a polygamist with four wives, four sons and nine daughters, who lived in different villages. Nelson's mother was Gadla's third wife, Nosekeni Fanny, daughter of Nkedama of the Right Hand House and a member of the amaMpemvu clan of the Xhosa.[12]

No one in my family had ever attended school ... On the first day of school my teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave each of us an English name. This was the custom among Africans in those days and was undoubtedly due to the British bias of our education. That day, Miss Mdingane told me that my new name was Nelson. Why this particular name I have no idea.

—Mandela, 1994[13]

Mandela later stated that his early life was dominated by traditional Thembu custom and taboo.[14] He grew up with two sisters in his mother's kraal in the village of Qunu, where he tended herds as a cattle-boy and spent much time outside with other boys.[15] Both his parents were illiterate, but being a devout Christian, 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.[16] 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.[17] Feeling "cut adrift", he later said that he inherited his father's "proud rebelliousness" and "stubborn sense of fairness".[18]

Mandela's mother took him to the "Great Place" palace at Mqhekezweni, where he was entrusted to the guardianship of the Thembu regent, Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo. Although he did 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.[19] As Mandela attended church services every Sunday with his guardians, Christianity became a significant part of his life.[20] He attended a Methodist mission school located next to the palace, where he studied English, Xhosa, history and geography.[21] He developed a love of African history, listening to the tales told by elderly visitors to the palace, and was influenced by the anti-imperialist rhetoric of a visiting chief, Joyi.[22] At the time he nevertheless considered the European colonialists not as oppressors but as benefactors who had brought education and other benefits to southern Africa.[23] Aged 16, he, Justice and several other boys travelled to Tyhalarha to undergo the ulwaluko circumcision ritual that symbolically marked their transition from boys to men; afterwards he was given the name Dalibunga.[24]

Clarkebury, Healdtown, and Fort Hare: 1934–1940

Photograph of Mandela, taken in Umtata in 1937

Intending to gain skills needed to become a privy councillor for the Thembu royal house, in 1933 Mandela began his secondary education at Clarkebury Methodist High School in Engcobo, a Western-style institution that was the largest school for black Africans in Thembuland.[25] 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.[26] He completed his Junior Certificate in two years,[27] and in 1937 moved to Healdtown, the Methodist college in Fort Beaufort attended by most Thembu royalty, including Justice.[28] 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, a speaker of Sotho, and coming under the influence of one of his favourite teachers, a Xhosa who broke taboo by marrying a Sotho.[29] Mandela spent much of his spare time at Healdtown as a long-distance runner and boxer, and in his second year he became a prefect.[30]

With Jongintaba's backing, in 1939 Mandela began work on a 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.[31] Mandela stayed in the Wesley House dormitory, befriending his own kinsman, K. D. Matanzima, as well as Oliver Tambo, who became a close friend and comrade for decades to come.[32] He took up ballroom dancing,[33] performed in a drama society play about Abraham Lincoln,[34] and gave Bible classes in the local community as part of the Student Christian Association.[35] Although he had friends connected to the African National Congress (ANC) who wanted South Africa to be independent of the British Empire, Mandela avoided any involvement with the anti-imperialist movement,[36] and became a vocal supporter of the British war effort when the Second World War broke out.[37] He helped to found a first-year students' house committee which challenged the dominance of the second-years,[38] and at the end of his first year became involved in a Students' Representative Council (SRC) boycott against the quality of food, for which he was suspended from the university; he never returned to complete his degree.[39]

Arriving in Johannesburg: 1941–1943

Returning to Mqhekezweni in December 1940, Mandela found that Jongintaba had arranged marriages for him and Justice; dismayed, they fled to Johannesburg via Queenstown, arriving in April 1941.[40] Mandela found work as a night watchman at Crown Mines, his "first sight of South African capitalism in action", but was fired when the induna (headman) discovered that he was a runaway.[41] He stayed with a cousin in George Goch Township, who introduced Mandela to realtor and ANC activist Walter Sisulu. The latter secured Mandela a job as an articled clerk at the law firm of Witkin, Sidelsky and Eidelman, a company run by Lazar Sidelsky, a liberal Jew sympathetic to the ANC's cause.[42] At the firm, Mandela befriended Gaur Radebe—a Xhosa member of the ANC and Communist Party—and Nat Bregman, a Jewish communist who became his first white friend.[43] Mandela attended Communist Party gatherings, where he was impressed that Europeans, Africans, Indians, and Coloureds mixed as equals. He later stated that he did not join the Party because its atheism conflicted with his Christian faith, and because he saw the South African struggle as being racially based rather than as class warfare.[44] To continue his higher education, Mandela signed up to a University of South Africa correspondence course, working on his bachelor's degree at night.[45]

Earning a small wage, Mandela rented a room in the house of the Xhoma family in the Alexandra township; despite being rife with poverty, crime and pollution, Alexandra always remained a special place for him.[46] Although embarrassed by his poverty, he briefly dated a Swazi woman before unsuccessfully courting his landlord's daughter.[47] 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 visited by various chiefs, he once met the Queen Regent of Basutoland.[48] In late 1941, Jongintaba visited Johannesburg—there forgiving Mandela for running away—before returning to Thembuland, where he died in the winter of 1942. Mandela and Justice arrived a day late for the funeral.[49] After he passed 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.[50] He later stated that he experienced no epiphany, but that he "simply found [himself] doing so, and could not do otherwise."[51]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Nelson Mandela
Alemannisch: Nelson Mandela
Ænglisc: Nelson Mandela
aragonés: Nelson Mandela
asturianu: Nelson Mandela
Avañe'ẽ: Nelson Mandela
Aymar aru: Nelson Mandela
azərbaycanca: Nelson Mandela
Bân-lâm-gú: Nelson Mandela
башҡортса: Нельсон Мандела
беларуская: Нельсан Мандэла
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Нэльсан Мандэла
Bikol Central: Nelson Mandela
български: Нелсън Мандела
bosanski: Nelson Mandela
brezhoneg: Nelson Mandela
čeština: Nelson Mandela
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Nelson Mandela
Chi-Chewa: Nelson Mandela
davvisámegiella: Nelson Mandela
dolnoserbski: Nelson Mandela
Ελληνικά: Νέλσον Μαντέλα
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Nelson Mandela
español: Nelson Mandela
Esperanto: Nelson Mandela
estremeñu: Nelson Mandela
Fiji Hindi: Nelson Mandela
føroyskt: Nelson Mandela
français: Nelson Mandela
Gàidhlig: Nelson Mandela
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: Nelson Mandela
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Nelson Mandela
한국어: 넬슨 만델라
Hawaiʻi: Nelson Mandela
Արեւմտահայերէն: Նելսոն Մանտելա
hornjoserbsce: Nelson Mandela
hrvatski: Nelson Mandela
Bahasa Indonesia: Nelson Mandela
interlingua: Nelson Mandela
Interlingue: Nelson Mandela
isiXhosa: Nelson Mandela
íslenska: Nelson Mandela
italiano: Nelson Mandela
Kabɩyɛ: Nelson Mandela
Kapampangan: Nelson Mandela
कॉशुर / کٲشُر: नेल्सॅन मंडेलॅ
kernowek: Nelson Mandela
Kiswahili: Nelson Mandela
Kreyòl ayisyen: Nelson Mandela
لۊری شومالی: نلسون ماندلا
latviešu: Nelsons Mandela
Lëtzebuergesch: Nelson Mandela
lietuvių: Nelson Mandela
Limburgs: Nelson Mandela
lingála: Nelson Mandela
Livvinkarjala: Nelson Mandela
lumbaart: Nelson Mandela
македонски: Нелсон Мандела
Malagasy: Nelson Mandela
მარგალური: ნელსონ მანდელა
مازِرونی: نلسون ماندلا
Bahasa Melayu: Nelson Mandela
Minangkabau: Nelson Mandela
Nāhuatl: Nelson Mandela
Nederlands: Nelson Mandela
नेपाल भाषा: नेल्सन मन्डेला
Napulitano: Nelson Mandela
Nordfriisk: Nelson Mandela
norsk nynorsk: Nelson Mandela
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Nelson Mandela
Papiamentu: Nelson Mandela
Piemontèis: Nelson Mandela
Tok Pisin: Nelson Mandela
Plattdüütsch: Nelson Mandela
português: Nelson Mandela
Qaraqalpaqsha: Nelson Mandela
Ripoarisch: Nelson Mandela
română: Nelson Mandela
Runa Simi: Nelson Mandela
русиньскый: Нелсон Мандела
संस्कृतम्: नेल्सन् मण्डेला
Sesotho sa Leboa: Nelson Mandela
Setswana: Nelson Mandela
sicilianu: Nelson Mandela
Simple English: Nelson Mandela
slovenčina: Nelson Mandela
slovenščina: Nelson Mandela
ślůnski: Nelson Mandela
Soomaaliga: Nelson Mandela
српски / srpski: Нелсон Мандела
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Nelson Mandela
Taqbaylit: Nelson Mandela
татарча/tatarça: Нельсон Мандела
ᏣᎳᎩ: Nelson Mandela
Tsetsêhestâhese: Nelson Mandela
Türkçe: Nelson Mandela
Thuɔŋjäŋ: Nelson Mandela
українська: Нельсон Мандела
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: نىلسۇن ماندىلا
vepsän kel’: Mandela Nel'son
Tiếng Việt: Nelson Mandela
Volapük: Nelson Mandela
West-Vlams: Nelson Mandela
Xitsonga: Nelson Mandela
Yorùbá: Nelson Mandela
粵語: 曼德拉
žemaitėška: Nelsons Mandela