Date added: 5 Dec 2013

Nelson Mandela was born on 18th July 1918 in the village of Mvezo, in Cape Province. A Xhosa born to the Thembu Royal family, he was given the forename Rolihlahla, which means ‘troublemaker’ – something he was never afraid to live up to if it meant freedom and equality for his people and nation.

Mandela studied law at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where he joined the ANC as a founding member of its Youth League. When the Afrikaner’s National Party came into power in 1948, Mandela’s course was set. Working for a lawyer he was constantly arrested for seditious activities, including a bombing campaign against government targets in 1961.

Convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment, he served 27 years, until an international campaign lobbied for his release in 1990.

Promptly elected as ANC president, Mandela led negotiations with F.W. De Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multi-racial elections. In 1994, he led the ANC to victory, formed a Government of National Unity and became the first black South African to hold the office of President.

For South Africans, ‘Madiba’ will always be ‘the father of the nation’.