Q:

What is a short biography of Nelson Mandela?

A:

Nelson Mandela began his career as a lawyer before becoming an anti-apartheid revolutionary and serving as president of South Africa. For his social justice, human rights and anti-apartheid work, Mandela was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in the small village of Mvezo in South Africa. After attending school in his native country, he spent time at the University of London before returning to South Africa and starting a law firm. Around this time, Mandela joined the African National Congress and became a founding member of the organization’s Youth League.

Mandela was arrested several times during his adult life, often for his political ties with the African National Congress and his work as a lawyer. In 1961, Mandela led a campaign to sabotage South Africa’s ruling apartheid government. He was subsequently arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment; however, he was released in 1990 after serving 27 years in prison.

After his release, Mandela resumed his anti-apartheid activism and entered into negotiations with then-President F.W. de Klerk to end apartheid and establish multiracial elections in South Africa. Mandela was successful, and the African National Congress rose to power, with Mandela serving as president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

Nelson Mandela died on Dec. 5, 2013, after a prolonged illness. He was 95.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Was Nelson Mandela a Christian?

    A:

    Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, was a Methodist Christian. He was raised and schooled in the religion but kept his religious beliefs private throughout his historic struggle and subsequent victory over the forces of apartheid in South Africa.

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  • Q:

    What was Nelson Mandela fighting for?

    A:

    As a native African living in South Africa under apartheid, the government system of imposed segregation in which non-native white residents of South Africa were treated as fundamentally superior to black natives, Nelson Mandela's initial cause was focused on bringing about the end of apartheid and systematic racial oppression in his home country. Apartheid came to an end in the 1990s, and in 1994, Mandela was elected as the first black chief executive of South Africa in the nation's first full, democratic election. When Mandela's presidential term ended in 1999, his focus shifted from issues within his own nation to general human rights issues across the globe.

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  • Q:

    Why was Nelson Mandela in prison for 27 years?

    A:

    Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years as a result of his efforts to bring racial harmony and equality to South Africa. He began his efforts as soon as he graduated from law school and founded the first black law firm in the country in 1952. As unrest spread in the 1950s and 1960s, Mandela found himself the target of law enforcement efforts, and after he secretly left South Africa to gain aid and training for the struggle, he was picked up and jailed until Feb. 11, 1990.

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  • Q:

    How many years was Nelson Mandela imprisoned?

    A:

    Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, 18 of which were spent at the infamously cruel Robben Island Prison in South Africa, where he was held from 1964 - 1982. Mandela was released from imprisonment in 1990 despite having initially been handed a life sentence. At the time of his imprisonment, South Africa was ruled by the white supremacist system of apartheid, in which native black Africans were officially considered inferior in every way to colonial European citizens, also known as Afrikaners. Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary who eventually became the first president of South Africa, and he was initially imprisoned on charges of incitement before being charged with conspiracy to overthrow the state in what is known as the Rivonia Trial.

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