Biography of Nelson Mandela - Nelson Mandela Foundation (2023)

Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in the village of MadibaMvezo, in the Eastern Cape on July 18, 1918. His mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni and his father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, chief adviser to the reigning King of Thembu, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. In 1930, when he was 12 years old, his father died and young Rolihlahla became a ward of Jongintaba at Great Place in Mqhekezweni.1.

As he listened to the elders' stories of his ancestors' bravery during the Wars of Resistance, he too dreamed of making his own contribution to his people's struggle for freedom.

Attended primary school inQunuwhere your teacher, Ms. Mdingane, named him Nelson, in line with the custom of giving 'Christian' names to all schoolchildren.

He completed his junior certificate at the Clarkebury Boarding Institute and attended Healdtown, a prestigious Wesleyan high school, where he enrolled.

Mandela began his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare, but did not complete it there after being expelled from the school for participating in a student protest.

On his return to the Great Place at Mqhekezweni, the king was furious and said that if he did not return to Fort Hare he would find wives for himself and his cousin Justice. Instead, they fled to Johannesburg, arriving there in 1941. There he worked as a mine safety officer and after meeting Walter Sisulu, a real estate agent, he was introduced to Lazer Sidelsky. Then he wrote his articles about a law firm — Witkin, Eidelman and Sidelsky.

He received his BA from the University of South Africa and returned to Fort Hare in 1943 for his degree.

In the meantime, he started an LLB study at the University of the Witwatersrand. By his own admission, he was a poor student and left the university in 1952 without a degree. Only after his arrest in 1962 did he resume his studies at the University of London, but he did not complete them either.

In 1989, in the final months of his imprisonment, he obtained an LLB from the University of South Africa. He graduated in absentia at a ceremony in Cape Town.

get into politics

Mandela, who became increasingly politically active from 1942 onwards, did not join the African National Congress until 1944, when he helped found the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).

In 1944 he married Walter Sisulu's cousin, Evelyn Mase, a registered nurse. They had two sons, Madiba Thembekile "Thembi" and Makgatho, and two daughters, both named Makaziwe, the first of whom died in infancy. He and his wife were divorced in 1958.

Mandela rose through the ranks of the ANCYL, and through his efforts, the ANC passed a more radical, mass-based policy in 1949, the Program of Action.

Biography of Nelson Mandela - Nelson Mandela Foundation (3)

Nelson Mandela no telhado da Kholvad House in 1953.

(Image: © Herbert Shore, courtesy of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation)

(Video) The Life and Times of Nelson Mandela part 1 (Animated Legacy Comic Series)

In 1952 he was elected Chief National Volunteer of the Challenge Campaign, with Maulvi Cachalia as his deputy. This civil disobedience campaign against six unjust laws was a joint program of the ANC and the South African Indian Congress. He and 19 others were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for their involvement in the campaign and sentenced to nine months hard labor, suspended for two years.

A two-year law degree in addition to his bachelor's degree enabled Mandela to practice law, and in August 1952 he and Oliver Tambo founded South Africa's first black law firm, Mandela & Tambo, in the 1950s .2

At the end of 1952 it was banned for the first time. As a disabled person, he was only allowed to watch in secret as the Freedom Charter was passed in Kliptown on June 26, 1955.

The Judgment of Betrayal

Mandela was arrested on December 5, 1956 in a nationwide police operation that led to the 1956 treason trial. Men and women of all races found themselves in the dock at the marathon trial, which only ended when the last 28 defendants, including Mandela, were acquitted on March 29, 1961.

On March 21, 1960, police killed 69 unarmed people during a protest in Sharpeville against the Passport Laws. This led to the country's first state of emergency on April 8 and the banning of the ANC and Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC). Mandela and his colleagues at the treason trial were among thousands detained during the state of emergency.

During the trial, on June 14, 1958, Mandela married a social worker, Winnie Madikizela. They had two daughters, Zenani and Zindziswa. The couple divorced in 1996.

Days before the end of the treason trial, Mandela traveled to Pietermaritzburg to address the All-in-Africa conference, which decided that he should write to Prime Minister Verwoerd to convene a national convention on a non-racial constitution, and he warned, if he did not agree, that there would be a national strike against the Republic of South Africa. After he and his colleagues were acquitted at the treason trial, Mandela went underground and began planning a national strike for March 29, 30 and 31.

Faced with the massive mobilization of state security, the strike was prematurely interrupted. In June 1961, he was asked to lead the armed struggle and helped to create the Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation), which began on 16 December 1961 with a series of explosions.

Biography of Nelson Mandela - Nelson Mandela Foundation (4)

Madiba arrived with his Ethiopian passport.

(Photo: © National Archives of South Africa)

On January 11, 1962, under the assumed name of David Motsamayi, Mandela secretly left South Africa. He traveled across Africa and visited England to gain support for the armed struggle. He received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South Africa in July 1962. On 5 August he was arrested at a police roadblock outside Howick, returning from KwaZulu-Natal, where he had informed the ANC president, Albert Luthuli, about his trip.

He was accused of leaving the country without permission and of calling workers to strike. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison, which he began serving in the local prison in Pretoria. On 27 May 1963 he was transferredrobben islandand returned to Pretoria on 12 June. Within a month, police raided Liliesleaf, a secret hideout in Rivonia, Johannesburg, used by ANC and Communist Party activists, and arrested several of their comrades.

(Video) Life of Nelson Mandela - Animation

On October 9, 1963, Mandela joined 10 others on trial for sabotage in the so-called Rivonia trial. Faced with the death penalty, his words in court, at the end of his famous “Discurso das Docas” of April 20, 1964, became immortal:

I fought white supremacy and I fought black supremacy. I cherish the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all people live together harmoniously and with equal opportunity. It is an ideal I hope to live up to and achieve. But if need be, it's an ideal I'm willing to die for.

On June 11, 1964, Mandela and seven other defendants, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni, were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment the following day. Goldberg was sent to Pretoria prison for being white, while the others went to Robben Island.

Mandela's mother died in 1968 and his eldest son, Thembi, in 1969. He was not allowed to attend the funerals.

On March 31, 1982, Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town along with Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni. Kathrada joined them in October. When he returned to prison in November 1985 after undergoing prostate surgery, Mandela was held alone. Justice Minister Kobie Coetsee visited him in hospital. Later, Mandela began negotiations for a final meeting between the apartheid government and the ANC.

Biography of Nelson Mandela - Nelson Mandela Foundation (5)

A photo taken during a rare visit by his teammates to Victor Verster Prison.

(Photo: © National Archives of South Africa)


On August 12, 1988, he was hospitalized where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. After more than three months in two hospitals, on 7 December 1988 he was transferred to a house in Victor Verster Prison near Paarl, where he spent his last 14 months. He was released from its gates on Sunday 11 February 1990, nine days after the ANC and PAC ban was lifted and nearly four months after the release of his remaining Rivonia comrades. Over the course of his detention, he turned down at least three parole offers.

Mandela dove into official negotiations to end white minority rule and was elected president of the ANC in 1991, replacing his ailing friend Oliver Tambo. In 1993 he and President FW de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize and on April 27, 1994 he voted for the first time in his life.


On 10 May 1994, he was sworn in as South Africa's first democratically elected president. In your 80thºIn 1998 he married Graça Machel, his third wife.

True to his promise, Mandela resigned after one term as president in 1999. He continued to work with the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, which he founded in 1995, establishing the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

(Video) Life and Times of Nelson Mandela

"It's in your hands" - Mandela Day quote


In April 2007, his grandson Mandla Mandela was sworn in as head of the Mvezo Traditional Council in a ceremony at the Mvezo Great Place.

Nelson Mandela never wavered in his commitment to democracy, equality and learning. Despite terrible provocations, he never responded to racism with racism. His life is an inspiration to all the downtrodden and underprivileged; and to all who oppose oppression and deprivation.

He died at his home in Johannesburg on 5 December 2013.

1. Nelson Mandela's father died in 1930 when Mandela was 12 years old and his mother died in 1968 while he was in prison. During the autobiographyLong road to freedomsays his father died when he was nine, historical evidence shows it must have been later, probably 1930. Original indeedLong road to freedomThe manuscript (written on Robben Island) dates from 1930 when he was 12 years old.

2. Determined that there were at least 2 other black-owned law firms before Mandela and Tambo.


What is the autobiography of Nelson Mandela answer? ›

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela.

Why did Nelson Mandela create the Nelson Mandela Foundation? ›

To deliver to the world an integrated and dynamic information resource on the life and times of Nelson Mandela, and promote the finding of sustainable solutions to critical social problems through memory-based dialogue interventions.

What is the Nelson Mandela Foundation history? ›

The Nelson Mandela Foundation is a non-profit organisation focused on memory, dialogue and legacy work, founded by Nelson Mandela in 1999. We are the custodian of his life and times; we are a committed facilitator of his living legacy; and we are mandated to promote his lifelong vision of freedom and equality for all.

What is a summary about Nelson Mandela? ›

Known and loved around the world for his commitment to peace, negotiation and reconciliation, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was South Africa's first democratically elected president (1994-1999). Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary and political leader, as well as a philanthropist with an abiding love for children.

What is the message of Nelson Mandela? ›

I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.

What events has the Nelson Mandela Foundation held to create awareness? ›

  • Commemoration: 8th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's passing, 25th anniversary of the Constitution. DEC9. ...
  • One year after Mahlangu: Taking stock of domestic work in South Africa. NOV24. ...
  • Electoral Reform: Can we build a better democracy? JUL29. ...
  • Making cities a home: Achieving urban land reform. JUL8. ...
  • September Amnesia.

What did Nelson Mandela do to help people? ›

After 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela was freed in 1990 and negotiated with State President F. W. de Klerk the end of apartheid in South Africa, bringing peace to a racially divided country and leading the fight for human rights around the world. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

How is the Mandela Foundation funded? ›

By donating to the Centre you can help sustain a unique legacy that contributes to the making of a just society. Donate: Online – starting with any amount from R50 upwards; Through bank transfers, debit orders or bank deposits; obtain banking details from

Who created the Nelson Mandela Foundation? ›

Founder: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Dr.

Why is Nelson Mandela important in history? ›

Mandela is considered the father of Modern South Africa. He was instrumental in tearing down the oppressive government and installing democracy. Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for peacefully destroying the Apartheid regime and laying the foundation for democracy.

What did the Nelson Mandela Foundation do in 2009? ›

January 22, 2010 – In 2009 the Foundation, along with its operational partners, in accordance with its mandate to foster Nelson Mandela's legacy of reconciliation, launched an initiative to advance social cohesion in a select number of South African communities.

What is the best biography of Nelson Mandela? ›

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela.

Why did Nelson Mandela want to change the world? ›

Nelson Mandela sought remembrance, rather than revenge, in response to injustices under Apartheid rule. He understood that the key to moving forward as a nation was understanding and learning from its troubled past.

What was the most inspiring fact you learned about Nelson Mandela's legacy? ›

1. He ushered hundreds of women into the political sphere. Though South Africa has work to do to eliminate violence against women and to ensure that women earn the same amount of money as men, Mandela helped set the country on a path toward equality from the very beginning of his career as president.

Why did Nelson Mandela fight for freedom? ›

Although he was arrested and imprisoned for 27 years for fighting for freedom, Mandela refused to give up the struggle or give in to hate. Mandela was fighting against apartheid, but he was also fighting for something: a better world, in which the freedom, justice and dignity of all were respected.

What is the most famous Nelson Mandela quote? ›

For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

Does Mandela Day have positive or negative impact on the community? ›

The Mandela Day campaign is a celebration of our collective power to create a global movement for good and make a positive impact on the world.

How does Nelson Mandela children's Fund support the community? ›

The Fund's role is to act with extreme vigilance in closing the gaps through Immunisation Coverage, HIV -AIDS Treatment or Prevention and tackling Malnutrition.

How does Mandela Day support the community? ›

Every year on the 18 of July, the birth day of Nelson Mandela, South Africans devote 67 minutes to helping others. It is 67 minutes to mark the 67 years Mandela spent as a public servant. By devoting 67 minutes to volunteering, we make a small contribution to society and solidarity.

How did Nelson Mandela help poverty? ›

As president Nelson Mandela donated half his salary to poor children and when he got the Nobel Peace Prize he gave part of the prize money to help street children.

What are two challenges that the Nelson Mandela children Fund has experienced? ›

The research findings place poverty; lack of access to quality education; lack of formal housing and community environment as the main drivers behind serious challenges facing children and youth.

How Nelson Mandela helped South Africa? ›

Shortly after his release, Mandela was chosen deputy president of the ANC; he became president of the party in July 1991. Mandela led the ANC in negotiations with de Klerk to end apartheid and bring about a peaceful transition to nonracial democracy in South Africa.

What organization did Nelson Mandela establish? ›

As president, Mandela established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights and political violations committed by both supporters and opponents of apartheid between 1960 and 1994.

Why is Mandela considered to be the world's greatest leader of all time? ›

As an influential leader, Mandela was able to lead his country to nearly-liberated from prejudice. As a significant leader, he elevated his followers' consciousness by appealing to their higher values and ideals, even encouraging many to educate themselves, as it would be the key to success.

What difficulties did Mandela face in his life? ›

apartheid government, the lack of support from other African countries, and the need for a peaceful and unified movement.

What does 67 minutes of Mandela mean? ›

On Mandela Day itself, citizens are encouraged to spend 67 minutes of their time in service to others in need. These 67 minutes are in appreciation of the 67 years that Nelson Mandela spent fighting for justice, equality, and human rights for all.

How did Nelson Mandela affect others? ›

One of Nelson Mandela's influences was the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights violations and provide a framework to ameliorate these atrocities. His emphasis on the absence of violence won him the Nobel Peace prize in 1993.

What is the name of the autobiography? ›

An autobiography, sometimes informally called an autobio, is a self-written biography of one's own life.

Who wrote the autobiography Long Walk to Freedom answers? ›

Long Walk to Freedom is an autobiographical work written by South African President Nelson Mandela and was first published in 1994.

Who is Nelson Mandela and why is he important? ›

Mandela is considered the father of Modern South Africa. He was instrumental in tearing down the oppressive government and installing democracy. Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for peacefully destroying the Apartheid regime and laying the foundation for democracy.

What are the 4 types of autobiography? ›

An autobiography may be placed into one of four very broad types: thematic, religious, intellectual, and fictionalized.

Is an autobiography a true story? ›

Autobiographies are also narrative nonfiction, so the stories are true but also include storytelling elements such as a protagonist (the author), a central conflict, and a cast of intriguing characters. Unlike memoirs, autobiographies focus more on facts than emotions.

What is the summary of Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom? ›

It tells the story of his life, from his humble beginnings in the South African countryside to his work as an iconic anti-apartheid freedom fighter, and ends, after chronicling his twenty-year prison sentence, with his final victory and release.

What point of view is used in the long walk to freedom? ›

The story "The Long Walk to Freedom" is narrated by a character named Nelson Mandela. The point of view is third person limited, meaning that the narrator only tells the story from the perspective of Mandela himself.

What is Long Walk to Freedom and write the meaning? ›

Long Walk to Freedom is an autobiography credited to South African President Nelson Mandela. It was ghostwritten by Richard Stengel and first published in 1994 by Little Brown & Co. The book profiles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years spent in prison.

What did Nelson Mandela do to change the world? ›

After 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela was freed in 1990 and negotiated with State President F. W. de Klerk the end of apartheid in South Africa, bringing peace to a racially divided country and leading the fight for human rights around the world.

Why is Nelson Mandela our hero? ›

Nelson Mandela (1918–2013) is the former South African President and a courageous leader who dedicated his life to ending apartheid and building a free, multiracial and democratic South Africa and, by example, a more equal world.


1. Nelson Mandela | Full Biography Story
(Biography TV)
2. Nelson Mandela: From Political Prisoner to Global Hero
3. Nelson Mandela's Life Story
(United Nations)
4. Nelson Mandela & Apartheid in South Africa Documentary
(The People Profiles)
5. Narrated version of The Life and Times of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
(Nelson Mandela Foundation)
6. Nelson Mandela Biography in English | President of South Africa
(Famous People Bio)
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