Nelson Mandela Biography, Life and Death


There are several resources documenting the life and times of Mr Nelson Mandela which can be found in extraordinary range of locations, both locally within South Africa and internationally. In this brief article, we’re going to share with you, life and times of Mr Nelson Mandela, the legacy he left, the events and the people he influenced or was influenced by – all in memory of this great hero

Recommended Reading: 7 Key Lessons from the Life of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela Biography

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in Mvezo, Transkei, on July 18, 1918, to Nonqaphi Nosekeni and Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. It was during his primary school days in Qunu that his teacher Miss Mdingane gave him the name Nelson, which was in accordance with the custom to give all school children “Christian” names existing at that time. Mandela completed his Junior Certificate at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and later went on to attend Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some repute

Recommended Reading: Top 25 Nelson Mandela Quotes

He began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. He admitted that he was a poor student and left the university in 1948 without graduating. He only started studying again through the University of London and also did not complete that degree. It wasn’t until 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, that he obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa.

Although Nelson Mandela, was increasingly politically involved from 1942, he only joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped formed the ANC Youth League.

On 5 December 1955, Nelson Mandela was arrested in a countrywide police swoop of 156 activists which led to the 1956 Treason Trial, he was eventually acquitted but on 21 March 1960 police killed 69 unarmed people in a protest at Sharpeville against the pass laws and Nelson Mandela together with his colleagues in the Treason Trial were among the thousands detained during the state of emergency. It was during the trial on 14 June 1958 that he married a social worker Winnie Madikizela. They had two daughters Zenani and Zindziswa and later divorced in 1996.

In October 1963 Nelson Mandela together with nine others went on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. While Facing the death penalty, he made a famous ‘Speech from the Dock’ on 20 April 1964, a speech that will always be remembered

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

On 11 June 1964 Nelson Mandela and seven others accused Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment the next day. Denis Goldberg was sent to Pretoria Prison because he was white while the rest were sent to Robben Island. His mother died in 1968 and his eldest son Thembi died in 1969 but he was not allowed to attend their funerals.

On 10 May 1994 following talks to end white minority rule and in 1991 after he was elected ANC President, Nelson Mandela was inaugurated South Africa’s first democratically elected President and on his 80th birthday in 1998 he married Graça Machel, his third wife. Nelson Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as President just exactly as he promised

Recommended Reading: Why Nelson Mandela Was Called Madiba

Mr Mandela never wavered in his commitment to democracy, equality, fairness, justice, peace and learning. Eventhough he was provoked terribly, he never replied racism with racism. Nelson Mandela’s life is an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived and opposed, Nelson Mandela died on Thursday, 5th December 2013 but his memory still lives on and will always be remembered.