One of the world’s great humanitarians, Nelson Mandela, passed away at the age of 95 at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on 5 December 2013.
Tata Madiba, as he was affectionately known, was born Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela on 18 July 1918 in Mvezo in the rural Eastern Cape. He was an ardent anti-apartheid activist and devoted much of his life to opposing the repressive apartheid regime.
He joined the African National Congress when he was only 25 years old, and was also instrumental in the formation of the African National Congress Youth League.
He and fellow activist Oliver Tambo opened the first black legal practice in Johannesburg in 1952.
In 1964 he was sentenced to life imprisonment by the then-South African government (he had previously been arrested and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in 1962). He spent 27 years in prison, 18 of these on the infamous Robben Island – now a renowned World Heritage Site.
He was released from prison on 11 February 1990 following the unbanning of the African National Congress, and led this party in South Africa’s first multiracial elections in 1994, which saw him become the country’s first democratic president. He served South Africa as president from 1994 to 1999, and became renowned and respected for his philosophy of reconciliation and forgiveness in a fractured country.
Mandela was a tireless worker for humanitarian rights, and in 1993 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He won many other international accolades over the years, and his kindness and generosity of spirit were celebrated and admired – wherever he went he drew crowds of adoring fans. His love for children was endless, and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation continues to improve the lives of children on the African continent.
Mandela was many things to many people – he was South Africa’s first democratic leader; the ‘jiving’ president; the ardent sports fan; the country’s favourite grandfather; and the living legend who never forgot to preach the gospel of human kindness and non-judgement.
His legacy will continue to inspire a nation and a world that mourn his passing.
Tata Madiba, RIP. We salute you.
Read our news article on reaction to Madiba's passing from around the world: Nelson Mandela: An icon in life and death
Click here to view the Presidency’s tribute website, which has a message from the president, more details on Madiba's life, and details on memorial services and funeral arrangements.
Click here to view the official website of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which has thousands of pages of information and pictures dedicated to the life, work and times of Nelson Mandela.