Born: July 18, 1918 in Mvezo, South Africa
Died: December 05, 2013 in Houghton, South Africa
Other Names: Mandela, Nelson R.; Mandela, Nelson Rolihlahla; Madiba
Nationality: South African
Occupation: Human rights activist, Lawyer, political activist, government official.
Education: Attended University College of Fort Hare and Witwatersrand University; University of South Africa, law degree, 1942.
Nelson Mandela fought to end apartheid, which divided people in South Africans based on race. After his release from prison, he sought reconciliation.
Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years because he was found guilty of conspiracy and sabotage to overthrow the government of South Africa, together with other eight National African Congress Leaders. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 and was released in 1990 after serving for 27 years in jail.
Became Worldwide Symbol of Political Injustice
Mandela spent much of the next six years in solitary confinement, bolstered by a weekly 30-minute visit with his wife. He was offered a conditional freedom in 1984--provided that he would settle in the black "homeland" of Transkei--but he absolutely refused this option, affirming his allegiance to the ANC.
Many private enterprises and national governments withdrew financial support for the beleaguered nation, and the resulting economic downturn literally forced the South African government to reconsider its dedication to apartheid. Finally, after 27 years, the white leadership heeded the calls from citizens of numerous nations to release the most important political prisoner of the late twentieth century, Mandela.