Name: Nelson Mandela

Alive: 1918-2013

Bio: Nelson Mandela (born Rolihlahla Mandela) was born into the Madiba clan on the 18th July 1918. Growing up a young Mandela heard stories of his ancestors valour during wars of resistance and dreamt of also making his own contribution to the freedom of his people. Later on, he studied for a BA at the University College of Fort Hare but was unable to complete it since he was expelled for joining student protests. Mandela throughout his early life became increasingly politically involved, culminating in his joining of the African National Congress. In 1955, during a countrywide police swoop, which led to the 1956 Treason Trial, he found himself incarcerated but was eventually released. In 1962 using an adopted name of David Motsamayi Mandela he left Africa and received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South Africa in July 1962. He was convicted for illegally leaving the country and was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment In 1964. He was unable to attend the funerals of his mother and eldest son while he was in prison. In 1988 he was taken to hospital for contracting tuberculosis and he later under house arrest. This though would only last for 14 months as the apartheid regime fell in South Africa in 1991. Three years after we was inaugurated South Africa’s first democratically elected President. Keeping to his promise he only served one term in office but still was an influential figure in South Africa until he died at his home in Johannesburg on 5th December 2013. Nelson Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning. Despite terrible provocation, he never answered racism with racism. His life is an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived; and to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation.


“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner”

“In my country we go to prison first and then become President”

Popular Culture: Nelson Mandela has been depicted in cinema and television countless times, reflecting somewhat his influence he has asserted in modern culture. Some of the most notable depictions are: Danny Glover in the 1987 HBO telefilm Mandela. Morgan Freeman played Mandela in the 2009 film Invictus. Most recently Idris Elba portrayed Mandela in the 2013 film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Further Reading:

  • Nelson Mandela, A Long Walk to Freedom (1995)
  • Anthony Sampson, Mandela: The Authorised Biography (1999)
  • Nelson Mandela, Selected Speeches and Writing of Nelson Mandela: The End of Apartheid in South Africa (2010)