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Famous leaders

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela at the age of 90, in 2008Nelson Mandela at the age of 90, in 2008 From the 1940s until 1994, Nelson Mandela (1918–2013) was a leader in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. During that time he was held as a political prisoner for 27 years, 18 of them on Robben Island. In 1994, he became the first black president of South Africa—the first president to be elected in a fully representative, multi-racial election in that country. An inspiration to millions of people of all ethnic origins all over the world, Nelson Mandela's death, on 5th December 2013, was mourned around the globe.

Traditional homes in the Transkei regionTraditional homes in the Transkei region

Early life

Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18th July 1918 in a small village in the Transkei region, in the southeast of South Africa. His father was chief of the Thembu clan, a Xhosa-speaking people. He attended the local Methodist school, where the teacher gave him his English name, Nelson. His father died when he was nine, and he was cared for by Jongintaba Dalindyebo, the acting chief of the Thembu people.

Mandela as a student, in 1937Mandela as a student, in 1937

Law student

Like all Xhosa boys, when he was 16, Mandela had to perform a daring act to formally become a man. He and his friends captured a pig.

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