Nelson Mandela personifies struggle. He is still leading the fight against apartheid with extraordinary vigour and resilience after spending nearly three decades of his life behind bars. He has sacrificed his private life and his youth for his people, and remains
Mandela has held numerous positions in the ANC: ANCYL secretary (1948); ANCYL president (1950); ANC Transvaal president (1952); Deputy National President (1952) and ANC President (1991).
He was born at Qunu, near
Mandela matriculated at
In 1944, he helped to found the ANC Youth League, whose Programme of Action was adopted by the ANC in 1949.
Mandela was elected national volunteer-in-chief of the 1952 Defiance Campaign. He traveled the country organising resistance to discriminatory legislation. He was given a suspended sentence for his part in the campaign. Shortly afterwards a banning order confined him to
By 1952 Mandela and Tambo had opened the first black legal firm in the country, and Mandela was both
A petition by the Transvaal Law Society to strike Mandela off the roll of attorneys was refused by the Supreme Court.
In the 'fifties, after being forced through constant bannings to resign officially from the ANC, Mandela analysed the
When the ANC was banned after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, he was detained until 1961 when he went underground to lead a campaign for a new national convention.
Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the ANC, was born the same year. Under his leadership it launched a campaign of sabotage against government and economic installations.
In 1962 Mandela left the country for military training in
A decade before being imprisoned, Mandela had spoken out against the introduction of Bantu Education, recommending that community activists "make every home, every shack or rickety structure a centre of learning".
During the 'seventies he refused the offer of a remission of sentence if he recognised
It is significant that shortly after his release on Sunday 11 February 1990, Mandela and his delegation agreed to the suspension of armed struggle. Mandela has honorary degrees from more than 50 international universities and is chancellor of the University of the North. He was inaugurated as the first democratically elected State President of South Africa on 10 May 1994 - June 1999
Nelson Mandela retired from Public life in June 1999 and died at his home in Johannesburg on 5 December 2013.