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Who is Nelson Mandela? His life and facts

who is nelson mandela?

In history, loads of folks worldwide have dealt with discrimination for stuff like their gender, age, race, or color. Sadly, it still happens today. But there are some awesome people who’ve really hustled to make things better. They’re pushing for a world where everyone gets treated fair and squarely. One such person who has devoted his life to eliminating discrimination was Nelson Mandela. But who is Nelson Mandela? If you are one among those people who do not know who is Nelson Mandela then here’s a brief account of Nelson Mandela biography and how he lived his life.

Early Life and Background

The first President of South Africa to be elected in an entirely democratic election was Nelson Mandela. He was also said to be a prominent anti-apartheid radical and the leader of the African National Congress before his presidency started. However, before we get into the major details of his life let’s take a look at the Nelson Mandela biography with respect to early life and background.

Birth and Family

Nelson Mandela was born on the 18th of July 1918 in a small village named Mvezo. This place is located in Transkei, South Africa. He was born into a royal family where his father, Henry was called the chief of a tribe named the Tembu and his great-grandfather was also called the tribe’s king. However sadly, Nelson’s father died when he was just twelve years old.


Nelson Mandela was the first member of the family who started to attend school at the age of seven. He later on joined the Clarkebury Boarding Institute where he learned about Western culture and completed his Junior certificate in just two years instead of the standard three-year duration. He then attended the University of Fort Hare and the South African Native College. Later on, after moving to the city of Johannesburg, he started pursuing the study of law at the University of Witwatersrand.

Early Political Involvement

At the time when Nelson Mandela was just growing up he saw that there was racial divide among the people. The white people had all the comfort while ruling the country and the black people did not have any good facilities and were treated unfairly. This caught Nelson Mandela’s attention. It was then in 1944 that Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress that worked towards equal rights for all people.

Imprisonment and Struggle

Nelson Mandela was quite an influential person in the ANC’s 1952 Defiance Movement and the 1955 People’s Congress. Nelson along with his fellow lawyer Oliver Tambo ran the law firm that offered free or low-cost advice to many blacks who did not have any people to represent them. While this was his account of contributions, he was also arrested for Treason. The details of the same could be provided as follows.

Arrest and Trial

On December 5, 1956, Nelson Mandela conducted a non-violent mass struggle. During this event, Mandela was arrested and charged with Treason along with 150 others. Men and women of all races were admitted to the marathon trial that ended only when at least 28 were accused including Mandela and were acquitted on the 29th of March 1961.

They also set up Nelson Mandela apartheid opposition groups. These groups however were banned by the government.

Life in Prison

Nelson was aware that he could get caught for his secret army and hence kept a low profile and lived while disguising himself. He was however arrested again in August 1962 during his trip back from Algeria and was sentenced to five years in prison.

During his life in prison, he refused freedom on two occasions and chose to stand by his principles. He utilized this time to learn new things including a new language Afrikaans which is the South African language spoken by white people. This again earned him respect.

Global Campaigns for His Release

As time passed by Nelson Mandela became a famous prisoner and there were voices raised to Free Mandela. This put high pressure on South Africa to put an end to Nelson Mandela apartheid. It was finally in 1990 that Nelson Mandela was set free. It was then in 1991 that Nelson Mandela presidency reign started and there were equal rights for everyone.

Interesting Facts on Nelson Mandela

It is no lie that Nelson Mandela has accomplished many great things in his life which also includes dismantling the legacy of apartheid and hence tackling racism. While this was his basic work, here are more other such interesting Nelson Mandela quotes and facts that you might want to know about.

He was elected as the first Black president of South Africa

Nelson Mandela was elected as the first president of South Africa in 1994. He completed his service in 1999.

He was a son of the King

Nelson Mandela was a part of the royal family. His dad Henry Mandela was the Chief of the Madiba clan. His great grandfather was also considered to be the king of this clan.

He was a lawyer by profession

Nelson had renounced his chieftainship to become a full-time lawyer. He attended the University of Fort Hare and had studied law at the University of Witwatersrand.

He had married 3 times

Mandela married three times and had about 6 children, 20 grandchildren, and many more great grandchildren.

He has spent over 27 years in jail

Mandela has spent as many as 27 years in jail split between Robben Island, Victor Verster Prison, and Pollsmoor Prison. With the increasing pressure of an anti-racial war, the South African President released him in 1990.

He is termed as the Father of the Democratic South Africa

Mandela was elected as the first democratic leader of South Africa and is hence considered to be the Father of Democratic South Africa. He is also admired by a lot of political leaders of the 20th and 21st Century.

Here are a few of the top Nelson Mandela quotes that have influenced not just South Africa but also the entire world.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Education is one major tool that could help people overcome poverty and help them follow their dreams. Access to education in fact should also be free.

“It is in your hands, to make a better world for all who live in it.”

Since you are the true power, even tiny adjustments you make will have an effect on both you and other people.

“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.”

A dreamer who is consistent on their way is the one who eventually wins at the end.

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice.”

The most fundamental need for human survival, including food, clothing, shelter, and water, shouldn’t be limited to one request per person. They are something that everyone ought to be able to obtain and to which they have a right.

“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.”

Bringing about a positive change in others’ lives is what actually matters more than just what you have achieved in your own life.


Nelson Mandela’s values and spirit are very much alive even in this century and it is no lie that people will never forget him. People can still read about the struggles that he had faced during his battle against discrimination and how he fought with inequality to get equal rights for his people. We all should be a part of this bravery and try our best to lead his legacy on.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What were Nelson Mandela’s main contributions to ending apartheid?

Nelson Mandela’s main contribution to ending apartheid was by bringing about peace in a racially divided country and fighting for people who faced oppression all around the world.

How long was Nelson Mandela imprisoned, and why?

He was imprisoned for life for sabotage however he was later released in 1990 after 27 years of service in jail.

What were some of Nelson Mandela’s key policies as president?

Fighting for equality and ending apartheid were two key policies that Nelson Mandela focused on during his presidency.

How did Nelson Mandela’s early life influence his activism?

The customs he received from Thembu people and the education that he received from Christian mission schools helped Nelson Mandela’s early life influence his activism.

What are some of Nelson Mandela’s most famous quotes?

A few of the Nelson Mandela’s quotes that are quite famous could be provided as follows:
“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.”
“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.”
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

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