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On December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela, the former activist who overcame a nearly three-decade prison stint to become president of South Africa, passes away after years of struggling with health issues. He was 95.
"Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father," South African President Jacob Zuma said. "What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves."
Mandela was known as a freedom fighter, prisoner, civil rights leader, political leader and symbol of integrity and reconciliation not only for South Africa, but for the world.
His lifelong mission to end apartheid started when he left school early to join the the African National Congress (ANC). He rose quickly in the organization, and was elected president of the organization in 1950. It was in 1960 that Mandela’s efforts turned more militant, sparked when police opened fire on a group of unarmed protestors in the Sharpeville township, killing 69 people.
READ MORE: Key Steps That Led to the End of Apartheid
Soon after, the ANC was outlawed, but that didn’t stop Mandela. After the ban, he went underground to form a new, armed wing of the organization named “Spear of the Nation.” Through this group, which was also known as the MK, Mandela helped plan attacks on government institutions, like the post office.
The violent turn was not one he took lightly. “It would be wrong and unrealistic for African leaders to continue preaching peace and nonviolence at a time when the government met our peaceful demands with force,” he said about starting the more militant branch. “It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle.”
In 1962, Mandela secretly left South Africa, traveling around Africa and England to gain support. He also trained in Morocco and Ethiopia. When he returned, he was arrested and charged with illegal exit of the country and incitement to strike. He was then sentenced to life in prison for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government.
Instead of a testimony, he gave a four hours long speech, ending it by saying: "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
While he was in prison, a “Free Nelson Mandela” campaign fueled the outcry against the regime.
In 1990, newly elected president F. W. de Klerk made a shocking move that broke from the conservatives of his party, lifting the ban on the ANC—and all other formerly banned political parties—and calling for a non-racist South Africa. That February, de Klerk unconditionally released Mandela. The then 71-year-old walked out of prison, fist held above his head. He had served 27 years in prison.
After his release, Mandela resumed his leadership of the ANC in its negotiations for an end to apartheid. Incredibly, just four years after his release, on May 10, 1994, he was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President.
As president, Mandela introduced social and economic programs and presided over the enactment of a new constitution that established a strong central government and prohibited discrimination. He also discouraged black South Africans from seeking revenge for the apartheid period, preaching kindness and forgiveness instead. Mandela only served one term in order to set an example for future leaders, but he remained in the nation’s consciousness until his death.
Dozens of officials world leaders expressed their grief over Mandela’s passing. The funeral and burial cap took place over 10 days of national mourning. On December 15, tribal leaders clad in animal skins stood alongside officials in dark suits as Mandela's coffin, which was draped with the South African flag, was buried in his childhood village of Qunu.
READ MORE: Nelson Mandela: His Written Legacy
Former South African President Nelson Mandela Is Dead at 95
Former South African President Nelson Mandela smiles for photographers after a meeting with actor Tim Robbins at Mandela's home in Johannesburg September 22, 2005. Robbins is currently in South Africa filming. | (Photo: Reuters/Mike Hutchings)
South African President Jacob Zuma announced late Thursday that revered former South African President Nelson Mandela has died. He was 95.
"This is the moment of our deepest sorrow. Our nation has lost its greatest son, yet what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human," said Zuma in an address on CNN.
"We saw in him what we seek in ourselves and in him we saw so much of ourselves. Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell," he added.
Mandela emerged from 27 years of imprisonment on Feb. 11, 1990, to eventually lead that country out of decades of apartheid-scarred existence and has been celebrated as an icon worldwide for racial equality.
Zuma explained that Mandela will be accorded a state funeral and noted that he had ordered all flags in South Africa to be flown at half-mast from Dec. 6 until Mandela is officially laid to rest.
According to CNN, Mandela had battled several bouts of illness associated with his advancing age and had returned to his boyhood home in Eastern Cape Province where he explained that he was most at peace.
Reactions to his death have been pouring in from around the world since Zuma's announcement.
"It is with the deepest regret that we have learned of the passing of our founder, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela – Madiba," the Nelson Mandela Foundation noted in a statement posted on its website.
"We want to express our sadness at this time. No words can adequately describe this enormous loss to our nation and to the world," the statement continued. "We give thanks for his life, his leadership, his devotion to humanity and humanitarian causes. We salute our friend, colleague and comrade and thank him for his sacrifices for our freedom. The three charitable organisations that he created dedicate ourselves to continue promoting his extraordinary legacy."
Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s peacemaker, dies at 95
JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela was a master of forgiveness. South Africa’s first black president spent nearly one-third of his life as a prisoner of apartheid, the system of white racist rule that he described as evil, yet he sought to win over its defeated guardians in a relatively peaceful transition of power that inspired the world.
As head of state, the ex-boxer, lawyer and inmate lunched with the prosecutor who argued successfully for his incarceration, sang the apartheid-era Afrikaans anthem at his inauguration and traveled hundreds of miles to have tea with the widow of Hendrik Verwoerd, the prime minister at the time he was sent to prison who was also the architect of white rule.
It was this generosity of spirit that made Mandela, who died on Thursday at the age of 95, a global symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation in a world often jarred by conflict and division.
Mandela’s stature as a fighter against white racist rule and seeker of peace with his enemies was on a par with that of other men he admired: American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and Indian independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi, both of whom were assassinated while actively engaged in their callings.
Mandela’s death deprived the world of one of one of the great figures of modern history and set the stage for days of mourning and reflection about a colossus of the 20th century who projected astonishing grace, resolve and good humor.
South African President Jacob Zuma made the announcement at a news conference late Thursday, saying “we’ve lost our greatest son.”
At times, Mandela embraced his iconic status, appearing before a rapturous crowd in London’s Wembley Stadium soon after his 1990 release from jail. Sometimes, he sought to downplay it, uneasy about the perils of being put on a pedestal. In an unpublished manuscript, written while in prison, Mandela acknowledged that leaders of the anti-apartheid movement dominated the spotlight but said they were “only part of the story,” and every activist was “like a brick which makes up our organization.”
He pondered the cost to his family of his dedication to the fight against the racist system of government that jailed him for 27 years and refused him permission to attend the funeral of his mother and of a son who was killed in a car crash. In court, he described himself as “the loneliest man” during his mid-1990s divorce from Winnie Mandela. As president, he could not forge lasting solutions to poverty, unemployment and other social ills that still plague today’s South Africa, which has struggled to live up to its rosy depiction as the “Rainbow Nation.”
He secured near-mythical status in his country and beyond. Last year, the South African central bank released new banknotes showing his face, a robust, smiling image of a man who was meticulous about his appearance and routinely exercised while in prison. South Africa erected statues of him and named buildings and other places after him. He shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with F. W. de Klerk, the country’s last white president. He was the subject of books, films and songs and a magnet for celebrities.
In 2010, Mandela waved to the crowd at the Soccer City stadium at the closing ceremony of the World Cup, whose staging in South Africa allowed the country, and the continent, to shine internationally. It was the last public appearance for the former president and prisoner, who smiled broadly and was bundled up against the cold.
One of the most memorable of his gestures toward racial harmony was the day in 1995 when he strode onto the field before the Rugby World Cup final in Johannesburg, and then again after the game, when he congratulated the home team for its victory over a tough New Zealand team. Mandela was wearing South African colors and the overwhelmingly white crowd of 63,000 was on its feet, chanting “Nelson! Nelson! Nelson!”
It was typical of Mandela to march headlong into a bastion of white Afrikanerdom — in this case the temple of South African rugby — and make its followers feel they belonged in the new South Africa.
The moment was portrayed in “Invictus,” Clint Eastwood’s movie telling the story of South Africa’s transformation through the prism of sport.
It was a moment half a century in the making. In the 1950s, Mandela sought universal rights through peaceful means but was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 for leading a campaign of sabotage against the government. The speech he gave during that trial outlined his vision and resolve.
𠇍uring my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people,” Mandela said. “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
He was confined to the harsh Robben Island prison near Cape Town for most of his time behind bars, then moved to jails on the mainland. It was forbidden to quote him or publish his photo, yet he and other jailed members of his banned African National Congress were able to smuggle out messages of guidance to the anti-apartheid movement, and in the final stages of his confinement, he negotiated secretly with the apartheid leaders who recognized change was inevitable.
Thousands died, or were tortured or imprisoned in the decades-long struggle against apartheid, which deprived the black majority of the vote, the right to choose where to live and travel, and other basic freedoms.
So when inmate No. 46664 went free after 27 years, walking hand-in-hand with his wife Winnie out of a prison on the South African mainland, people worldwide rejoiced. Mandela raised his right fist in triumph, and in his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” he would write: 𠇊s I finally walked through those gates … I felt — even at the age of seventy-one — that my life was beginning anew,”
Mandela’s release, rivaled the fall of the Berlin Wall just a few months earlier as a symbol of humanity’s yearning for freedom, and his graying hair, raspy voice and colorful shirts made him a globally known figure.
Life, however, imposed new challenges on Mandela.
South Africa’s white rulers had portrayed him as the spearhead of a communist revolution and insisted that black majority rule would usher in bloody chaos. Thousands died in factional fighting in the runup to democratic elections in 1994, and Mandela accused the government of collusion in the bloodshed. But voting day, when long lines of voters waited patiently to cast ballots, passed peacefully, as did Mandela’s inauguration as president
“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world,” the new president said. “Let freedom reign. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement! God bless Africa! Thank you.”
Mandela also stood hand on heart, saluted by white generals as he sang along to two anthems now one: the apartheid-era Afrikaans 𠇍ie Stem,” (“The Voice”) and the African “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” (“Lord Bless Africa”).
Since apartheid ended, South Africa has held four parliamentary elections and elected three presidents, always peacefully, setting an example on a continent where democracy is still new and fragile. However, corruption scandals and other missteps under the ruling African National Congress, the liberation group once led by Mandela, have undercut some of the early promise.
President Jacob Zuma periodically observes that the South African white minority is far wealthier than the black majority, an imbalance that he regards as a vestige of the apartheid system that bestowed most economic benefits on whites.
When Mandela came to power, black South Africans anticipated quick fixes after being denied proper housing, schools and health care under apartheid. The new government, however, embraced free-market policies to keep white-dominated big business on its side and attract foreign investment. The policy averted the kind of economic deterioration that occurred in Zimbabwe after independence South Africa, though, has one of the world’s biggest gaps between rich and poor.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born July 18, 1918, the son of a tribal chief in Transkei, a Xhosa homeland that later became one of the ntustans” set up as independent republics by the apartheid regime to cement the separation of whites and blacks.
Mandela’s royal upbringing gave him a regal bearing that became his hallmark. Many South Africans of all races would later call him by his clan name, Madiba, as a token of affection and respect.
Growing up at a time when virtually all of Africa was under European colonial rule, Mandela attended Methodist schools before being admitted to the black University of Fort Hare in 1938. He was expelled two years later for his role in a student strike.
He moved to Johannesburg and worked as a policeman at a gold mine, boxed as an amateur heavyweight and studied law.
His first wife, nurse Evelyn Mase, bore him four children. A daughter died in infancy, a son was killed in a car crash in 1970 and another son died of AIDS in 2005. The couple divorced in 1957 and Evelyn died in 2004.
Mandela began his rise through the anti-apartheid movement in 1944, when he helped form the ANC Youth League.
He organized a campaign in 1952 to encourage defiance of laws that segregated schools, marriage, housing and job opportunities. The government retaliated by barring him from attending gatherings and leaving Johannesburg, the first of many nning” orders he was to endure.
After a two-day nationwide strike was crushed by police, he and a small group of ANC colleagues decided on military action and Mandela pushed to form the movement’s guerrilla wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation.
He was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years’ hard labor for leaving the country illegally and inciting blacks to strike.
A year later, police uncovered the ANC’s underground headquarters on a farm near Johannesburg and seized documents outlining plans for a guerrilla campaign. At a time when African colonies were one by one becoming independent states, Mandela and seven co-defendants were sentenced to life in prison.
The ANC’s armed wing was later involved in a series of high-profile bombings that killed civilians, and many in the white minority viewed the imprisoned Mandela as a terrorist. The apartheid government, meanwhile, was denounced globally for its campaign of beatings, assassinations and other violent attacks on opponents.
Even in numbing confinement, Mandela sought to flourish.
“Incidentally, you may find that the cell is an ideal place to learn to know yourself, to search realistically and regularly the process of your own mind and feelings,” he wrote in 1975 to Winnie Mandela, a prominent activist in her own right who was in a separate jail at that time.
Mandela turned down conditional offers of freedom during his decades in prison. In 1989, P.W. Botha, South Africa’s hard-line president, was replaced by de Klerk, who recognized apartheid’s end was near. Mandela continued, even in his last weeks in prison, to advocate nationalizing banks, mines and monopoly industries — a stance that frightened the white business community.
But talks were already underway, with Mandela being spirited out of prison to meet white government leaders. After his release, he took charge of the ANC, and was elected president in a landslide in South Africa’s first all-race election.
Perceived successes during Mandela’s tenure include the introduction of a constitution with robust protections for individual rights, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which he established with his fellow Nobelist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It allowed human rights offenders of all races to admit their crimes publicly in return for lenient treatment. Though not regarded as wholly successful, it proved to be a kind of national therapy that would become a model for other countries emerging from prolonged strife.
Despite his saintly image, Mandela was sometimes a harsh critic. When black journalists mildly criticized his government, he painted them as stooges of the whites who owned the media. Some whites with complaints were dismissed as pining for their old privileges.
In the buildup to the Iraq War, Mandela harshly rebuked President George W. Bush. “Why is the United States behaving so arrogantly?” he asked in a speech. 𠇊ll that (Bush) wants is Iraqi oil.” He suggested Bush and then British Prime Minister Tony Blair were racists, and claimed America, “which has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world,” had no moral standing.
Until Bush repealed the order in 2008, Mandela could not visit the U.S. without the secretary of state certifying that he was not a terrorist.
To critics of his closeness to Fidel Castro and Moammar Gadhafi despite human rights violations in the countries they ruled, Mandela explained that he wouldn’t forsake supporters of the anti-apartheid struggle.
To the disappointment of many South Africans, he increasingly left the governing to Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, who won the next presidential election and took over when Mandela’s term ended in 1999.
“I must step down while there are one or two people who admire me,” Mandela joked at the time. When he retired, he said he was going to stand on a street with a sign that said: “Unemployed, no job. New wife and large family to support.”
His marriage to Winnie had fallen apart after his release and he married Graca Machel, the widowed, former first lady of neighboring Mozambique.
With apartheid vanquished, Mandela turned to peacemaking efforts in other parts of Africa and the world and eventually to fighting AIDS, publicly acknowledging that his own son, Makgatho, had died of the disease.
Mandela’s final years were marked by frequent hospitalizations as he struggled with respiratory problems that had bothered him since he contracted tuberculosis in prison.
He stayed in his rural home in Qunu in Eastern Cape province, where Hillary Clinton, then U.S. secretary of state, visited him in 2012, but then moved full-time to his home in Johannesburg so he could be close to medical care in Pretoria, the capital.
He is survived by Machel his daughter Makaziwe by his first marriage, and daughters Zindzi and Zenani by his second.
Donna Bryson, former AP bureau chief in Johannesburg, contributed to this report. Marcus Eliason has worked for the AP in South Africa and is now stationed in New York.
Born in 1918, Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1943, as a law student.
He and other ANC leaders campaigned against apartheid. Initially he campaigned peacefully but in the 1960s the ANC began to advocate violence, and Mr Mandela was made the commander of its armed wing.
He was arrested for sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964, serving most of his sentence on Robben Island.
It was forbidden to quote him or publish his photo, but he and other ANC leaders were able to smuggle out messages of guidance to the anti-apartheid movement.
He was released in 1990 as South Africa began to move away from strict racial segregation - a process completed by the first multi-racial elections in 1994.
Mr Mandela, who had been awarded the Nobel Prize in 1993 jointly with Mr de Klerk, was elected South Africa's first black president. He served a single term, stepping down in 1999.
After leaving office, he became South Africa's highest-profile ambassador, campaigning against HIV/Aids and helping to secure his country's right to host the 2010 football World Cup.
He was also involved in peace negotiations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and other countries in Africa and elsewhere.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela dies at 95
Former South African President Nelson Mandela has died at age 95 of complications from a recurring lung infection.
The anti-apartheid leader and Nobel laureate was a beloved figure around the world, a symbol of reconciliation from a country with a brutal history of racism.
Mandela was released from prison in 1990 after nearly 30 years for plotting to overthrow South Africa’s apartheid government. In 1994, in a historic election, he became the nation’s first black leader. Mandela stepped down in 1999 after a single term and retired from political and public life.
Born Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in Transkei, South Africa, on July 18, 1918, he was one of the world’s most revered statesmen and revolutionaries who led the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
A qualified lawyer from the University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand, Mandela served as the president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.
His political career started in 1944 when he joined the African National Congress (ANC), and he participated in the resistance against the then government¹s apartheid policy in 1948. In June 1961, the ANC executive approved his idea of using violent tactics and encouraged members who wished to involve themselves in Mandela’s campaign. Shortly after, he founded Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC, and was named its leader.
In 1962, he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges, and was sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment. In 1963, Mandela was brought to stand trial along with many fellow members of Umkhonto we Sizwe for conspiring against the government and plotting to overthrow it by the use of violence.
Sentenced to life in prison
On June 12, 1964, eight of the accused, including Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment.
His statement from the dock at the opening of the defense trial became extremely popular. He closed his statement with: “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Mandela served 27 years in prison, spending many of those years at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town. While in jail, his reputation grew and he became widely known across the world as the most significant black leader in South Africa.
He became a prominent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gained momentum in South Africa and across the world. On the island, he and other prisoners were subjected to hard labor in a lime quarry. Racial discrimination was rampant, and prisoners were segregated by race with the black prisoners receiving the fewest rations. Mandela has written about how he was allowed one visitor and one letter every six months.
Free and fair
In February 1985, President P.W. Botha offered Mandela his freedom on condition that he unconditionally reject violence as a political weapon, but Mandela rejected the proposal. He made his sentiment known through a letter he released via his daughter.
“What freedom am I being offered while the organization of the people remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts,” he wrote. In 1988, Mandela was moved to Victor Verster Prison and would remain there until his release.
Throughout his imprisonment, pressure mounted on the South African government to release him. The slogan “Free Nelson Mandela” became the new battle cry of the anti-apartheid campaigners. Finally, Mandela was released on Feb. 11, 1990, in an event streamed live across the world. After his release, Mandela returned to his life’s work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier. In 1991, the first national conference of the ANC was held inside South Africa since the organization had been banned in 1960.
Mandela was elected president of the ANC, while his friend Oliver Tambo became the organization’s national chairperson. Mandela’s leadership and his work, as well as his relationship with then President F.W. de Klerk, were recognized when they were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. South Africa’s first multiracial elections, held on April 27, 1994, saw the ANC storm in with a majority of 62 percent of the votes, and Mandela was inaugurated in May 1994 as the country’s first black president.
As president from May 1994 until June 1999, Mandela presided over the transition from minority rule and apartheid, winning international respect for his advocacy of national and international reconciliation.
Honors and personal life
Mandela received many national international honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth II and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush.
In July 2004, the city of Johannesburg bestowed its highest honor by granting Mandela the freedom of the city at a ceremony in Orlando, Soweto.
In 1990, he received the Bharat Ratna Award from the government of India and also received the last ever Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union.
In 1992, he was awarded the Ataturk Peace Award by Turkey. He refused the award citing human rights violations committed by Turkey at the time, but later accepted the award in 1999. Also in 1992, he received the Nishan-e-Pakistan, the highest civil service award of Pakistan. Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” was published in 1994. He had begun work on it secretly while in prison.
Mandela and his wives
Nelson Mandela’s love life has seemingly run parallel to his political one — and can be divided up into three key eras. The young activist married his first wife, Evelyn Mase, in 1944. The couple, who had four children, divorced in 1958 — shortly before Mandela became an outlaw with the banning of the ANC.
Mandela’s second marriage — and probably his most famous — largely coincided with the time he spent locked up at the hands of the apartheid regime. In 1958 he walked down the aisle with Winnie Madikizela, who stood by his side and actively campaigned to free him from prison. Winnie became a powerful figure in her own right while Mandela was imprisoned, but a series of scandals involving her led to the couple’s estrangement in 1992, her dismissal from his cabinet in 1995, and their official divorce in 1996. The couple had two children. Winnie Mandela was also later convicted of kidnapping.
His third marriage, to Graca Machel — the widow of former Mozambique President Samora Machel — came on his 80th birthday as he entered his role of world statesman. from yahoo
“Our goal was general amnesty in exchange for the truth,” Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel laureate and chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, told Bloomberg News in a 1999 interview. “It was the only way we could heal a tormented, divided and fragmented people.”
Mandela set an example of forgiveness for the country as a whole, wrote Nadine Gordimer, a South African novelist and Nobel laureate for literature. She described him as 𠇊 revolutionary leader of enormous courage” and 𠇊 political negotiator of extraordinary skill and wisdom, a statesman in the cause of peaceful change.”
Mandela’s skills and insight into his country’s passion for sports, depicted in the 2009 movie “Invictus,” led him to forge a remarkable national unity that helped South Africa gain an upset victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup held in Johannesburg.
Nelson Mandela dies at 95
Nelson Mandela, who died Dec. 5 at age 95 after a long illness, triumphed over personal suffering, institutionalized racism and political oppression to become the first black president of a multiracial South Africa—and one of the titans of the 20th century.
His death was announced to the South African people in a late night address by President Jacob Zuma.
Mandela was born July 18, 1918, in a village in South Africa's Cape Province. His birth name was Rolihlahla, which means "troublemaker" in his native Xhosa. (He was given the name Nelson later, in the tradition of schoolchildren having non-African names.) Many South Africans still refer to him by his clan name: Madiba.
During the 1940s, he was active in the African National Congress, which fought for the rights of majority blacks. He became a member of the ANC's national executive committee in 1950.
On Dec. 5, 1956, Mandela was among the ANC leaders arrested on charges of high treason. After a nearly five-year trial, he was found not guilty. But in 1964, he was sentenced to life in prison on charges of sabotage. He served more than 26 years—first in the notorious Robben Island prison, working in a lime quarry, and later at Pollsmoor and Victor Verster.
Nelson Mandela dead at 95: Anti-apartheid hero and former South African president dies in Johannesburg
Nelson Mandela, who led the fight against apartheid and then pushed for reconciliation as his country's first black president, died after a prolonged illness Thursday. He was 95.
"He passed on peacefully in the comfort of his family," South African President Jacob Zuma said in an address to the world just before midnight Thursday in the African nation. "We've lost our greatest son."
As word of the death of the man South Africans called Madiba spread across the heartbroken country, hundreds of weeping mourners converged on Mandela's home in Johannesburg, chanting, "Viva Mandela, viva!"
Fittingly, blacks and whites mourned Mandela together.
"If it wasn't for Mandela, I wouldn't be chilling with my black friends," said 19-year-old Dominic Sadie, who is white and was part of the giant crowd of people holding candles and paying their respects. "I love him."
Mandela died at 8:50 p.m. local time, but Zuma didn't make his sad announcement until a little before midnight.
Weeping South Africans raced out into streets in their pajamas, including one black mom who rushed over to Mandela's house with her two daughters.
"I am glad that he is in a better place, but I hope South Africans will be able to deal with his death," she said through her tears.
Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's last president during the era of state-sanctioned racial segregation.
"I liked him and I immediately felt that this is truly a man of greatness," de Klerk recalled. "I think Nelson Mandela's legacy is don't be bitter about the past, take the hands also of your former enemies."
In Washington, President Obama said Mandela "no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages."
"I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Mandela's life," Obama said at the White House. "So long as I live, I will do what I can to learn from him."
Obama ordered that flags be flown at half-staff until sunset Monday and prepared to fly out to South Africa for a state funeral.
Former President Bill Clinton, another politician who drew inspiration from the mighty South African, was in his New York City office when he got the word.
"Today the world has lost one of its most important leaders and one of its finest human beings," Clinton said.
In Times Square, tourists and commuters stopped in their tracks when word of Mandela's passing appeared on the scrolling headlines on the ABC News building at 44th St. and Broadway.
"He moved a whole nation," said Charles Gayle, 75, who lives on the Lower East Side. "He's not only one of the greatest people of our time, he was one of the greatest of any time.
Up in Harlem, historian Billy Mitchell recalled when Mandela drove through his neighborhood during his triumphant visit to New York City in 1990.
"Brothers and sisters were chanting," he said. "People were dressed up in Afro-centric clothes. I felt so African and one of African descent."
At City Hall, Mayor Bloomberg said, "We lost one of the most transformative and influential figures in modern history."
"Nelson Mandela was a global icon who broke the back of apartheid in South Africa," he said.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio said Mandela "met hatred with reason, intolerance with resolve."
"For so many of us, the fight for a free South Africa became the rallying cry of our generation," he said. "It brought us together, and inspired us to confront oppression abroad — and also here at home."
The Rev. Al Sharpton also chimed in, saying the world "has lost one of history's greatest citizens."
"He changed human history and taught activists around the world that in order to legitimately further what is noble, you must actually be a noble person," Sharpton said. "He showed us that you can change the course of human history without lowering yourself to human depravity."
In a twist of fate, Prince William and Kate Middleton, along with Mandela's daughter, Zindzi Mandela, were attending the premiere of the film about her dad's life, "Long Walk to Freedom," in London when they received word of his death.
"It's extremely sad and tragic news. We're just reminded what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was," said William. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him, and with his family right now."
Mandela served 27 years in prison for taking up arms against his country's oppressive white government. But when he was freed, he embraced former captors and urged sworn enemies to forge a "rainbow" nation.
Nelson Mandela, Inspiration To World, Dies At 95
Nelson Mandela, who was born in a country that viewed him as a second-class citizen, died Thursday as one of the most respected statesmen in the world. He was 95.
President Jacob Zuma announced the death in a televised speech.
From his childhood as a herd boy, Mandela went on to lead the African National Congress' struggle against the racially oppressive, apartheid regime of South Africa. For his efforts, he spent 27 years behind bars as a political prisoner. In 1994, after Mandela was elected president in South Africa's first democratic elections, Archbishop Desmond Tutu shook with elation as he welcomed Mandela to a rally in Cape Town.
"One man inspires us all. One man inspires the whole world," Tutu said at the time. "Ladies and gentlemen, friends, fellow South Africans, welcome our brand new state president — out of the box: Nelson Mandela."
Mandela: An Audio History
In 2004, All Things Considered aired a five-part series on South Africans' struggle against apartheid through rare sound recordings of Mandela, as well as those who fought with and against him. Hear That Special Report
Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in the Transkei, a region of rolling green hills near the southern tip of the African continent. In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, he recalled his childhood as a simple, joyful time. He herded sheep and cows near his mother's huts and played barefoot with other boys. He was educated by British missionaries, got a law degree and eventually opened the first black law firm in Johannesburg.
In the 1940s, Mandela became active with the Youth League of the African National Congress.
Tapping into the culture of black resistance that was sweeping Johannesburg, Mandela helped organize strikes and demonstrations against the country's system of racial segregation.
Later, Mandela and other ANC leaders decided that freedom songs and civil disobedience would never topple the apartheid government, so they set up Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC. As a result of Umkhonto we Sizwe's guerrilla tactics, Mandela and seven other ANC leaders went on trial for sabotage in 1963.
Against the advice of his lawyers, Mandela gave a four-hour closing statement. He used the speech in what's known as the "Rivonia trial" to attack the apartheid system. Despite facing the death penalty, he defiantly told the court that his actions had been in pursuit of the ideal of a free, democratic society with equal opportunity for people of all races.
"It is an idea for which I hope to live for and to see realized but my Lord, if it needs be, it is an idea for which I am prepared to die," Mandela said at the time.
Mandela and his codefendants escaped the gallows but were sentenced to life in prison.
He would spend the next 27 years behind bars, much of that time in the maximum security prison on Robben Island. In prison he became a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement and the focal point of international campaigns to do away with racial segregation in South Africa.
'A War Of Attrition'
One of Mandela's co-defendants at the Rivonia trial was Ahmed Kathrada, who was one of Mandela's closest confidants inside and later outside prison.
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In an interview with Radio Diaries in 2004, Kathrada recalled Mandela playing a chess game for three days against a young medical student who had recently been incarcerated on the island.
"They played the first day, and when it came to lockup time, the game had not finished because Mandela calculates every move as he does in politics," Kathrada said.
Mandela persuaded one of the guards to lock the board away in an empty cell. At the end of the next day, the game was still not finished and the guard had to lock it away again.
"In the end, this young chap just gave up. He said, 'You win. I can't carry on this way,' " Kathrada said. "That's Mandela it's a war of attrition and he won."
In Mandela's war of attrition against the apartheid government, South African President F.W. de Klerk made several offers to free him but Mandela would accept only an unconditional release.
In 1990, de Klerk did just that. Apartheid was on its final legs, and Africa's largest economy was, for the first time in centuries, headed for black majority rule.
'That Man Saved This Country'
The four years between Mandela's release from prison and South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994 were tumultuous, however.
Elements within the white apartheid government were desperately trying to retain power. Violent clashes between supporters of the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party and Mandela's ANC left many foreign observers predicting that South Africa would disintegrate into a bloody civil war.
But Mandela's paternal, grandfatherly presence had a calming effect across the country. In 1993, he and de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize. After winning the 1994 election, Mandela reached out to South Africans of all races to help build an equitable and prosperous country.
"We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered," Mandela said at the time. "We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all. This is the challenge that faces all South Africans today, and it is one to which I am certain we will all rise."
Possibly his greatest political move was his decision to serve only one term as president. This was partly because he was 80, but also because he said he wanted to establish a tradition of contested, democratic elections.
During the 2004 presidential elections in which Thabo Mbeki won a second term, South Africans of all races stood in long lines to cast their ballots. Before 1994, none of the black people in those lines would have been allowed to vote. Mlongi Sitcholosa, a black schoolteacher waiting to vote in the township of Soweto, credited one man with changing that: Mandela.
"That man saved this country," Sitcholosa said. "If it wasn't because of him this country would have gone to flame, but because of his wisdom and his intelligence he saved this country."
In his autobiography, Mandela notes that his struggle against apartheid took a toll on his personal life.
Toward the end of the book Mandela says: "To be the father of a nation is a great honor, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it is a joy I had far too little of."
He had four children with his first wife, Evelyn Mase. Three of them died before him. Mandela's son, Makgatho, died of an HIV-related illness in 2005.
His marriage to Winnie Madikizela Mandela survived his incarceration but disintegrated soon after he was released. He watched his daughters from this second marriage grow up through the glass of prison visitor's rooms.
But in his waning years, Mandela's home life finally improved. Rumors that he was in love started to surface in 1996. Graca Machel, the widow of Mozambican President Samora Machel, was seen frequently in Mandela's presence. For his 80th birthday, the two got married in a tiny, private ceremony.
Friends say that Machel brought Mandela the joy that he felt he'd missed as he struggled for decades to bring freedom to South Africa.
Nelson Mandela dead: South Africa's first black president and anti-apartheid icon dies at 95
Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and the man widely seen as the architect of a peaceful transition to democracy after three centuries of apartheid rule, has died at his home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton. He was 95.
Mr Mandela had been receiving home-based intensive care after being discharged from hospital in September.
The South African president Jacob Zuma confirmed the news in a statement broadcast live on national television.
He said Mr Mandela had "departed" and was now at peace.
He said South Africa had lost its greatest son and its people had lost a father.
"His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world. His humility, his compassion and his humanity earned him their love," he said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them, we owe a debt of gratitude.
"They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free."
British Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to Mr Mandela tweeting: "A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time. I've asked for the flag at No10 to be flown at half mast.''
President Barack Obama said the day Mr Mandela was released from prison had given him a sense of "what a human being can do when they're guided by their hopes and not by their fears".
"I cannot imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set," he said.
"As long as I live, I will do what I can to learn from him."
Mr Obama thanked the Mandela family for sharing "this extraordinary man" with the rest of the world.
He said Mr Mandela's legacy of a "free South Africa at peace with itself" was an example to the world.
"We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again."
"He no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages", Mr Obama added.
Mr Mandela had been discharged at the start of September after spending 87 days in hospital – his fourth admission since December 2012 – and had remained in a “critical and at times unstable” condition while receiving intensive care at his home.
He had been vulnerable to respiratory problems since contracting tuberculosis during his imprisonment under apartheid. But over the last year his condition had significantly worsened with a recurring lung infection the latest of his ailments.
Click here for our Nelson Mandela interactive e-book
His humanitarian legacy in 20th century history remains unrivalled. Mr Mandela practically changed the fabric of South African politics after being freed by the apartheid government in 1990 after 27 years of imprisonment.
He later became South Africa’s first black president after the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, serving one term until 1999.
The years that followed were marked by a seemingly endless succession of visits to him by world leaders and other prominent figures in which his unique status on the global stage was honoured.
But as age took its toll, Mr Mandela’s public appearances dwindled, and he had been rarely seen since the South Africa-hosted football World Cup of 2010.
News of his death brought the inevitable end to months of speculation over his deteriorating health with scenes that were at times criticised for their seeming lack of grace.
South Africa's first black president had been in the Mediclinic heart hospital in Pretoria where he had lain for 12 weeks after he being admitted on June 8 with a recurring lung infection. With his life hanging by a thread, rumours circulated, global news teams combed for clues and South Africans braced themselves for the inevitable end, with crowds laying flowers outside the hospital.
But at the start of September things changed unexpectedly after the country watched Mr Mandela discharged in an ambulance marked "paramedical intensive care" make the 31-mile journey from Pretoria back to Houghton where a makeshift clinic had been set up in Mr Mandela’s house allow the former president to receive similar levels of treatment.
These scenes were further played out against a backdrop of an odd internal dispute in the Mandela family. In July sixteen relatives won a court case against the former president’s eldest grandson, Mandla, ensuring that the bones of Mandela's three late children were dug up and moved to the village of Qunu – where Mandela himself has said he wants to be buried.