Nelson Mandela is the first black president of South Africa after he spent years in prison for his anti-apartheid work, he also won a noble prize in 1993.
Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in the tiny village of Mvezo, on the banks of the Mbashe River in Transkei, South Africa.
His birth name was Rolihlahla Mandela. “Rolihlahla” in the Xhosa language literally means “pulling the branch of a tree,” but more commonly translates as “troublemaker.”
Nelson Mandela was a social rights activist, politician and philanthropist who became South Africa’s first Black president from 1994 to 1999. After he was involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his 20s, Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1942.
For 20 years, Mandela directed peaceful, nonviolent acts of defiance against the South African government and its racist policies, including the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People. He founded the law firm Mandela and Tambo, partnering with Oliver Tambo, a brilliant student he’d met while attending Fort Hare. The law firm provided free and low-cost legal aid to unrepresented Black people.
In 1962, Mandela spent 27 years in prison for political offenses. In 1993, Mandela and then South African President F.W. de Klerk were jointly given the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to destroy the country’s apartheid system. For years and generations to come, Mandela will be a source of inspiration for civil rights activists worldwide.