Sometimes known by the clan name Madiba, Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was a South African social rights activist and winner of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. Mandela helped to dismantle South Africa's apartheid system and became the country's first Black president (1994-1999). "Madiba" is a Xhosa clan term of endearment used for older people.

Nelson Mandela was the son of a clan chief and learned ancestral stories at a young age. The stories involved the oppression of black people, which inspired Mandela to fight for his people's freedom. At Fort Hare University, Mandela became involved with student protests, which evolved into a lifelong commitment to fighting injustice and inequality.

During his twenties, Mandela moved to Johannesburg, where he first experienced the racial inequalities of apartheid. He joined the African National Congress (ANC), the oldest Black political organization in South Africa, and tried to fight against the unfair and racist laws of the country. Mandela and other members of the ANC were eventually charged with high treason, but this did not stop them from fighting for their cause.

In 1964, Mandela was sentenced to life in prison. Due to domestic and international pressure and fears of racial civil war, President F. W. de Klerk released Nelson in 1990. By then, Nelson was a popular figure in political and racial affairs. In May 1994, he was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President.

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