Nelson Mandela, South African (1918 – 2013)

In 1960, the ANC is banned. Mandela goes underground in 1961, travels abroad in 1962 and receives military training in Algeria and Ethiopia. Upon his return to South Africa in 1962, Mandela is convicted of leaving the country illegally and inciting workers to strike. He is serving this sentence when on July 11, 1963 police raid Lilliesleaf farm in Rivonia, Johannesburg. MK High Command is arrested.  Nelson Mandela was born July 18, 1918 in the small village of Mvezo in Transkei of the Eastern Cape, one of the most beautiful and isolated regions of South Africa. He was born of royal Thembu blood, and would later, along with Oliver Tambo, go on to establish Johannesburg’s first black law firm.
The youthful Mandela was an imperious man, both a talented boxer and lawyer. He rose through the ranks of the African National Congress League in the early 1940’s, pushing to the front of resistance marches and, two decades later, battling to make effective bombs for the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC), Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), which he formed and led.

The Rivonia Trail sees Mandela and his comrade sentenced to life imprisonment for sabotage. And in 1964, Mandela and the other black Rivonia trailist are transferred to Robben Island prison in Cape Town where he would spend the next 24 years of his life. Mandela was transferred from Robben Island in 1988, released from prison in 1990, and elected as South Africa’s first president of color in 1994.

These events sparked the beginning of a new era for the people of South Africa. To a people that had experienced death squads, unspeakable violence, and humiliation, he brought hope, pride, and a new patriotism. Mandela showed that reconciliation, forgiveness, and tolerance are not only possible, but imperative. In the process he has transformed South Africa from the world’s social outcast to a leader in democracy.