Nelson Mandela

From New World Encyclopedia

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (July 18, 1918 - December 5, 2013) was the first President of South Africa to be elected in fully representative democratic elections. Before his presidency, he was a prominent anti-apartheid radical and leader of the African National Congress, who had spent 27 years in prison for his involvement in underground armed resistance activities and sabotage.

Through his long imprisonment, much of it spent in a cell on Robben Island, Mandela became the most widely known figure in the struggle against South African apartheid. Although the apartheid regime and those sympathetic to it considered him and the ANC to be communists and terrorists, he explained the move to embark on armed struggle as a last resort. He had been steadfastly committed to non-violence until increasing repression and violence from the state convinced him that non-violence against apartheid had achieved nothing and could not succeed.

However, the reversal in policy to that of reconciliation, which Mandela pursued upon his release in 1990, facilitated a peaceful transition to fully representative democracy in South Africa.

Having received over a hundred awards over four decades, Mandela became a cultural icon of freedom and equality to many around the world. In South Africa, he was often known as Madiba, an honorary title adopted by elders of Mandela's clan. Many South Africans also refered to him reverently as mkhulu (grandfather), or as Tata ("Father"); he is often described as "the father of the nation."

In the past, as leader of the ANC during its "armed struggle," Mandela attracted condemnation and was a figure of hatred for some groups, particularly among South African whites and opponents of the ANC. The ANC's armed struggle resulted in deaths of innocent civilians, and Mandela did not deny responsibility for such casualties in his role as ANC leader. Since the end of apartheid, he was widely praised for his actions, even among white South Africans and former opponents, though not universally. Mandela wrote about his Christian conviction, and how his actions and attitudes were informed by his faith which sustained him through his years of imprisonment.

Early life

Mandela belonged to a cadet branch of the Thembu dynasty which (nominally) reigns in the Transkeian Territories of the Union of South Africa's Cape Province. He was born in the small village of Qunu in the district of Mthatha, the Transkei capital. His great-grandfather was Ngubbengcuka (died 1830), the Inkosi Enkhulu or King of the Thembu people, who were eventually subjected to British colonial rule. One of the king's sons, named Mandela, became Nelson's grandfather and the source of his surname. However, being only the Inkosi's child by a wife of the Ixhiba clan (the so-called "Left-Hand House"), the descendants of his branch of the royal family were not eligible to succeed to the Thembu throne. His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa (1880-1928), was nonetheless designated chief of the village of Mvezo. Upon alienating the colonial authorities, however, he was deprived of his position and he moved his family to Qunu. Gadla remained, however, a member of the Inkosi's Privy Council, and was instrumental in the ascension to the Thembu throne of Jongintaba Dalindyebo, who would later return this favor by informally adopting Mandela upon Gadla's death. In total, Mandela's father had four wives, with whom he fathered a total of thirteen children (four boys and nine girls). Mandela was born to Gadla's third wife ("third" by a complex royal ranking system), Nosekeni Fanny, daughter of Nkedama of the Mpemvu Xhosa clan, in whose umzi or homestead Mandela spent much of his childhood. His given name Rolihlahla means "one who brings trouble upon himself."

At seven years of age, Rolihlahla Mandela became the first member of his family to attend a school, where he was given the name "Nelson," after the British admiral Horatio Nelson, by a Methodist teacher. His father died of tuberculosis when Rolihlahla was nine, and the Regent, Jongintaba, became his guardian. Mandela attended a Wesleyan mission school next door to the palace of the Regent. Following Thembu custom, he was initiated at age 16, and attended Clarkebury Boarding Institute, learning about Western culture. He completed his Junior Certificate in two years, instead of the usual three.

Mandela c. 1937

Destined to inherit his father's position as a privy councillor, in 1937 Mandela moved to Healdtown, the Wesleyan college in Fort Beaufort which most Thembu royalty attended. Aged nineteen, he took an interest in boxing and running. After matriculating, he started to study for a B.A. at the Fort Hare University, where he met Oliver Tambo, and the two became lifelong friends and colleagues.

At the end of his first year, he became involved in a boycott by the Students' Representative Council against the university policies, and was asked to leave Fort Hare. Shortly after this, Jongintaba announced to Mandela and Justice (the Regent's own son and heir to the throne) that he had arranged marriages for both of them. Both young men were displeased by this and rather than marry, they elected to flee the comforts of the Regent's estate to the only place they could: Johannesburg. Upon his arrival in Johannesburg, Mandela initially found employment as a guard at a mine. However, this was quickly terminated after the employer learned that Mandela was the Regent's runaway adopted son. He then managed to find work as an clerk at a law firm thanks to connections with his friend and fellow lawyer Walter Sisulu. While working, he completed his degree at the University of South Africa (UNISA) via correspondence, after which he started with his law studies at the University of Witwatersrand. During this time Mandela lived in a township called Alexandra.

Political activity

After the 1948 election victory of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party with its apartheid policy of racial segregation, Mandela was prominent in the ANC's 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People, whose adoption of the Freedom Charter provided the fundamental program of the anti-apartheid cause. During this time, Mandela and fellow lawyer Oliver Tambo operated the law firm of Mandela and Tambo, providing free or low-cost legal counsel to many blacks who would otherwise have been without legal representation.

Initially inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and committed to non-violent mass struggle, Mandela was arrested with 150 others on December 5, 1956, and charged with treason. The marathon Treason Trial of 1956-1961 followed, and all were acquitted. From 1952-1959 the ANC experienced disruption as a new class of Black activists (Africanists) emerged in the townships demanding more drastic steps against the National Party regime. The ANC leadership of Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu felt not only that events were moving too fast, but also that their leadership was being challenged. They consequently bolstered their position by alliances with small White, Colored and Indian political parties in an attempt to appear to have a wider appeal than the Africanists. The 1955 Freedom Charter Kliptown Conference was ridiculed by the Africanists for allowing the 100,000-strong ANC to be relegated to a single vote in a Congress alliance, in which four secretary-generals of the five participating parties were members of the secretly reconstituted South African Communist Party (SACP), strongly adhering to the Moscow line.

In 1959, the ANC lost its most militant support when most of the Africanists, with financial support from Ghana and significant political support from the Transvaal-based Basotho, broke away to form the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) under Robert Sobukwe and Potlako Leballo.

Arrest and imprisonment

In 1961, Mandela became the leader of the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (translated as Spear of the Nation, also abbreviated as MK), which he co-founded. He coordinated a sabotage campaign against military and government targets, and made plans for a possible guerrilla war if sabotage failed to end apartheid. A few decades later, MK did indeed wage a guerrilla war against the regime, especially during the 1980s, in which many civilians were killed. Mandela also raised funds for MK abroad, and arranged for paramilitary training, visiting various African governments.

Did you know?
Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison for protesting Apartheid before becoming president of South Africa

On August 5, 1962, he was arrested after living on the run for 17 months and was imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort. According to William Blum, a former U.S. State Department employee, the CIA allegedly tipped off the police as to Mandela's whereabouts. Three days later, the charges of leading workers to strike in 1961 and leaving the country illegally were read to him during a court appearance. On October 25, 1962, Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison. Two years later on June 11, 1964, a verdict had been reached concerning his previous engagement in the African National Congress (ANC).

While Mandela was in prison, police arrested prominent ANC leaders on July 11, 1963, at Liliesleaf Farm, Rivonia, and north of Johannesburg. Mandela was brought in, and at the Rivonia Trial, Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Motsoaledi, Walter Mkwayi (who escaped during the trial), Arthur Goldreich (who escaped from prison before the trial), Denis Goldberg and Lionel "Rusty" Bernstein were charged by Percy Yutar with the capital crimes of sabotage and crimes which were equivalent to treason, but easier for the government to prove.

In his statement from the dock at the opening of the defense case in the trial on April 20, 1964 at Pretoria Supreme Court, Mandela laid out the clarity of reasoning in the ANC's choice to use violence as a tactic. His statement revealed how the ANC had used peaceful means to resist apartheid for years until the Sharpeville Massacre. That event coupled with the referendum establishing the Republic of South Africa and the declaration of a state of emergency along with the banning of the ANC made it clear that their only choice was to resist through acts of sabotage. Doing otherwise would have been tantamount to unconditional surrender. Mandela went on to explain how they developed the Manifesto of Umkhonto we Sizwe[1] on December 16, 1961 intent on exposing the failure of the National Party's policies after the economy would be threatened by foreigners' unwillingness to risk investing in the country. He closed his statement with these words:

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.[2]

Bram Fischer, Vernon Berrange, Joel Joffe, Arthur Chaskalson and George Bizos were part of the defense team that represented the accused. Harold Hanson was brought in at the end of the case to plead mitigation. All except Rusty Bernstein were found guilty, but they escaped the gallows and were sentenced to life imprisonment on June 12, 1964. Charges included involvement in planning armed action, in particular four charges of sabotage, which Mandela admitted to, and a conspiracy to help other countries invade South Africa, which Mandela denied.

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island where he was destined to remain for the next 18 of his 27 years in prison. It was there he wrote the bulk of his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. In that book Mandela did not reveal anything about the alleged complicity of president F. W. de Klerk in the violence of the 1980s and early 1990s, or the role of his ex-wife Winnie Mandela in that bloodshed. However, he later cooperated with his friend, journalist Anthony Sampson, who discussed those issues in Mandela: The Authorized Biography. Another detail that Mandela omitted was the allegedly fraudulent book, Goodbye Bafana. Its author, Robben Island prison warder James Gregory, claimed to have been Mandela's confidante in prison and published details of the prisoner's family affairs in Goodbye Bafana. Sampson maintained that Mandela had not known Gregory well, but that Gregory censored the letters sent to the future president and thus discovered the details of Mandela's personal life. Sampson also averred that other warders suspected Gregory of spying for the government and that Mandela considered suing Gregory.[3]

While in prison, Mandela was able to maintain contact with the ANC, which published a statement from him on June 10, 1980, reading in part:

Unite! Mobilize! Fight on! Between the anvil of united mass action and the hammer of the armed struggle we shall crush apartheid![4]

Refusing an offer of conditional release in return for renouncing armed struggle in February 1985, Mandela remained in prison until sustained ANC and international campaigning with the resounding slogan Free Nelson Mandela! culminated in his release in February 1990. President de Klerk simultaneously ordered Mandela's release and the ending of the ban on the ANC.

On the day of his release, February 11, 1990, Mandela made a speech to the nation. While declaring his commitment to peace and reconciliation with the country's white minority, he made it clear that the ANC's armed struggle was not yet over:

Our resort to the armed struggle in 1960 with the formation of the military wing of the ANC (Umkhonto we Sizwe) was a purely defensive action against the violence of apartheid. The factors which necessitated the armed struggle still exist today. We have no option but to continue. We express the hope that a climate conducive to a negotiated settlement would be created soon, so that there may no longer be the need for the armed struggle.

But he also said his main focus was to bring peace to the black majority and give them the right to vote in both national and local elections.


Presidency of South Africa

South Africa's first democratic elections in which full enfranchisement was granted were held on April 27, 1994. The ANC won the majority in the election, and Mandela, as leader of the ANC, was inaugurated as the country's first black State President, with the National Party's de Klerk as his deputy president in the Government of National Unity.

As President from May 1994 until June 1999, Mandela presided over the transition from minority rule and apartheid, winning international respect for his advocacy of national and international reconciliation.

Nelson Mandela encouraged black South Africans to get behind the previously hated Springboks (the South African national rugby team) as South Africa hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup. After the Springboks won an epic final over New Zealand, Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springbok shirt, presented the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar, an Afrikaner. This was widely seen as a major step in the reconciliation of white and black South Africans.

It was also during his administration that South Africa entered the space age with the launch of the SUNSAT satellite in February 1999. It was designed by students of the University of Stellenbosch and was used primarily for photographing land in South Africa related to vegetation and forestry concerns.


However, his administration attracted some criticism. In what was South Africa's first post-apartheid military operation, Mandela ordered troops into Lesotho in September 1998. Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili was elected in rigged elections which prompted fierce opposition threatening the unstable government. Lesotho is surrounded and economically dependent on its neighbor and also provides South Africa with jobs and remittances from workers. Troops were brought in to protect the government and secure the Katse Dam project which provides water supplies to South Africa’s dry industrial heartland.

Certain interest groups were also disappointed with the social achievements of his term of office, particularly the government's ineffectiveness in stemming the AIDS crisis. After his retirement, Mandela admitted that he may have failed his country by not paying more attention to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He has since taken many opportunities to highlight this tragedy in South Africa.

In an article in The New Republic in December 2006, Nelson Mandela was criticized for a number of positive comments he had made about the African diamond industry, specifically with reference to blood diamonds. In a letter to Edward Zwick, the director of the movie Blood Diamond, Mandela had noted that:

…it would be deeply regrettable if the making of the film inadvertently obscured the truth, and, as a result, led the world to believe that an appropriate response might be to cease buying mined diamonds from Africa. … We hope that the desire to tell a gripping and important real life historical story will not result in the destabilization of African diamond producing countries, and ultimately their peoples.[5]

It was claimed in the article that this comment, as well as various pro-diamond-industry initiatives and statements during his life and during his time as president of South Africa, were influenced by both his close personal association with some diamond-industry managers, as well as an outlook for "narrow national interests" of South Africa (which is a major diamond producer).

International diplomacy

President Mandela took a particular interest in helping to resolve the long-running dispute between Libya on the one hand, and the United States and Britain on the other, over bringing to trial two Libyans who were accused of sabotaging Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988 with the loss of 270 lives. In November 1994, Mandela offered South Africa as a neutral venue for the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial but the offer was rejected by British Prime Minister John Major. A further three years elapsed until Mandela's offer was repeated to Major's successor, Tony Blair, when the president visited London in July 1997. Later the same year, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Edinburgh in October 1997, Mandela warned: "No one nation should be complainant, prosecutor and judge." A compromise solution was then agreed for a trial to be held at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, governed by Scots law, and President Mandela began negotiations with Colonel Gaddafi for the handover of the two accused (Megrahi and Fhimah) in April 1999.

At the end of their nine-month trial, the verdict was announced on January 31, 2001. Fhimah was acquitted but Megrahi was convicted and sentenced to 27 years in a Scottish jail. Megrahi's appeal was turned down in March 2002, and former president Mandela went to visit him in Barlinnie prison on June 10, 2002. "Megrahi is all alone," Mandela told a packed press conference in the prison's visitors room. "He has nobody he can talk to. It is psychological persecution that a man must stay for the length of his long sentence all alone." Mandela added: "It would be fair if he were transferred to a Muslim country—and there are Muslim countries which are trusted by the West. It will make it easier for his family to visit him if he is in a place like the kingdom of Morocco, Tunisia or Egypt." Megrahi was subsequently moved to Greenock jail and is no longer in solitary confinement.

Marriage and family

Mandela and Evelyn in 1944

Mandela was married three times, fathered six children, 20 grandchildren, and a growing number of great-grandchildren.[6] His first marriage was to Evelyn Ntoko Mase who, like Mandela, was also from what later became the Transkei area of South Africa, although they actually met in Johannesburg. The couple had two sons, Madiba Thembekile (Thembi) (born 1946) and Makgatho (born 1950), and two daughters, both named Makaziwe (known as Maki; born 1947 and 1953). Their first daughter died at the age of nine months, and they named their second daughter in her honor. The couple broke up in 1957 after 13 years of marriage, divorcing under the multiple strains of his constant absences, devotion to revolutionary agitation, and the fact that she was a Jehovah's Witness, a religion that professes political neutrality. Thembi was killed in a car crash in 1969 at the age of 25, while Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island. All their children were educated at the Waterford Kamhlaba. Evelyn Mase died in 2004. While in prison, it was the absence of his children that Mandela found hardest to bear.

Mandela's second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, also came from the Transkei area, although they, too, met in Johannesburg, where she was the city's first black social worker. They had two daughters, Zenani (Zeni), born February 4, 1958, and Zindziswa (Zindzi), born in 1960. Later, Winnie would be deeply torn by family discord which mirrored the country's political strife; while her husband was serving a life sentence in the Robben Island prison for terrorism and treason, her father became the agriculture minister in the Transkei. The marriage ended in separation (April 1992) and divorce (March 1996), fueled by political estrangement.

Mandela still languished in prison when his daughter Zenani was married to Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini in 1973, elder brother of King Mswati III of Swaziland. As a member by marriage of a reigning foreign dynasty, she was able to visit her father during his South African imprisonment while other family members were denied access. The Dlamini couple live and run a business in Boston. One of their sons, Prince Ceza Dlamini (born in 1976), educated in the United States, has followed in his grandfather's footsteps as an international advocate for human rights and humanitarian aid. The sister of Prince Thumbumuzi and King Mswati, Princess Mantfombi Dlamini, is the chief consort to King Goodwill Zwelithini of KwaZulu-Natal, who "reigns but does not rule" over South Africa's largest ethnic group under the auspices of South Africa's government. One of Queen Mantfombi's sons is expected to eventually succeed Goodwill as monarch of the Zulus, whose Inkatha Party leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, was the rival of Mandela during much of his presidency.

Mandela himself was re-married in 1998, on his 80th birthday, to Graça Machel née Simbine, widow of Samora Machel, the former Mozambican president and ANC ally killed in an air crash 12 years earlier. The wedding (which followed months of international negotiations to set the unprecedented bride-price remitted to her clan) were conducted on Mandela's behalf by his traditional sovereign, King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo, born in 1964. Ironically, it was this paramount chief's grandfather, the Regent, whose selection of a bride for him prompted Mandela to flee to Johannesburg as a young man. Mandela continued to maintain a home at Qunu in the realm of his royal nephew (second cousin thrice-removed in Western reckoning), whose university expenses he defrayed and whose privy councillor he remains.

Religious faith

Mandela was not outspoken about his Christian faith. However, in his autobiography, he noted that he has always been and will be a Christian and that his actions and conviction stem from his Christian faith.[7] Desmond Tutu, his fellow South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate, called Mandela "God's gift to South Africa" and South Africa's "gift to the world."[8] Tutu comments that Mandela underwent a transformation on Robben Island. When he was first imprisoned, he was "forthright and belligerent" but in jail he "mellowed." He "began to discover depths of resilience and spiritual attributes that he would not have known he had." He allowed the suffering to ennoble him, and found himself "able to be gentle and compassionate towards others."[9] When Nelson Mandela walked out of prison, his dignity, restraint, spirit of reconciliation, and desire for national unity were so apparent that the millions around the world who watched his walk to freedom could all but reach out and touch it. Tutu described Mandela as a Christ-like figure who has a "capacity to draw out the good that is in others."[8] He describes Mandela, alongside the 14th Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., as "spendthrifts of themselves" who discovered what "true power" is through "serving the weak." He was not President of a "particularly impressive country, certainly not a military power" but what the world recognized was his "moral power."[9] While he was President, and since his retirement, other countries and regional organizations have begged him to visit, an honor afforded few other heads of state.


Public activities

After his retirement as President in 1999, Mandela went on to become an advocate for a variety of social and human rights organizations. Mandela expressed his support for the international Make Poverty History movement of which the ONE Campaign is a part.

Mandela remained a key figure for prominent educational organizations that strongly uphold his ideals of international understanding and peace, like the United World Colleges and the Round Square. For the IOC's Celebrate Humanity Campaign for the 2006 Winter Olympics, Mandela appeared in a televised public service announcement.

In July 2007, Mandela, his wife Graça Machel, and Desmond Tutu convened a group of world leaders in Johannesburg to contribute their wisdom and independent leadership to address the world's toughest problems. Mandela announced the formation of this new group, "The Elders," in a speech he delivered on his 89th birthday. Archbishop Tutu serves as chair of "The Elders." The founding members of this group also include former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Gro Harlem Brundtland, former U.S. Pres. Jimmy Carter, Li Zhaoxing, Mary Robinson and Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus. "This group can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes on whatever actions need to be taken," Mandela commented. "Together we will work to support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair."

Political activities

In 2003, Mandela attacked the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration in a number of speeches. Criticizing the lack of U.N. involvement in the decision to begin the War in Iraq, he said, "It is a tragedy, what is happening, what Bush is doing. But Bush is now undermining the United Nations." Mandela stated he would support action against Iraq only if it is ordered by the U.N.[10] Mandela also insinuated that President Bush may have been motivated by racism in not following the U.N. and its then secretary-general Kofi Annan on the issue of the War in Iraq. "Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man? They never did that when secretary-generals were white," Mandela said.[11]

He urged the people of the U.S. to join massive protests against Mr. Bush and called on world leaders, especially those with vetoes in the U.N. Security Council, to oppose him. "What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust." The comments caused a rare moment of controversy and some criticism of Mandela, even among some of his supporters.

Retirement and death

In summer 2001, Mandela was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer. He was treated with a seven-week course of radiation.[12] In June 2004, at age 85, Mandela announced that he would be retiring from public life. His health had been declining, and he wanted to enjoy more time with his family.

Nelson Mandela on the eve of his 90th birthday in Johannesburg in May 2008

He made an exception, however, for his commitment to the fight against AIDS. In July 2004, he flew to Bangkok to speak at the XV International AIDS Conference. His son, Makgatho Mandela, died of AIDS on January 6, 2005. In 2003, he had already lent his support to the 46664 AIDS fundraising campaign, named after his prison number.

In 2004, Mandela had successfully campaigned for South Africa to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, declaring that there would be "few better gifts for us in the year" marking a decade since the fall of apartheid. Mandela emotionally raised the FIFA World Cup Trophy after South Africa was awarded host status. Despite maintaining a low profile during the event due to ill-health, Mandela made his final public appearance during the World Cup closing ceremony, where he received a "rapturous reception."[13]

After suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection, Mandela died on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95. He had been discharged from hospital on September 1, amid reports that he was on life support, and his condition remained critical and unstable.[14] He died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, surrounded by his family.

President Zuma announced a national mourning period of ten days and a national day of prayer and reflection was held on Sunday December 8, 2013. Mandela's body laid in state from December 11–13 at the Union Buildings in Pretoria prior to the state funeral on December 15, 2013.


By the time of his death, Mandela had come to be widely considered "the father of the nation" within South Africa, and "the founding father of democracy", being seen as "the national liberator, the savior, its Washington and Lincoln rolled into one." Mandela's biographer Anthony Sampson commented that even during his life, a myth had developed around him that turned him into "a secular saint" and which was "so powerful that it blurs the realities."[3] Within a decade after the end of his Presidency, Mandela's era was being widely thought of as "a golden age of hope and harmony."[15] Across the world, Mandela earned international acclaim for his activism in overcoming apartheid and fostering racial reconciliation, coming to be viewed as "a moral authority" with a great "concern for truth."[3]

Throughout his life, Mandela had also faced criticism. Margaret Thatcher attracted international attention for describing the ANC as "a typical terrorist organization" in 1987,[3] although she later called for his release Mandela.[15] Mandela was criticized for his friendship with political leaders such as Fidel Castro, Muammar Gaddafi, and Suharto as well as his refusal to condemn their various human rights violations.

Orders and decorations

Mandela received many South African, foreign, and international honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, the Order of Merit and the Order of St. John from Queen Elizabeth II and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush. In July 2004, the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, bestowed its highest honor on Mandela by granting him the freedom of the city at a ceremony in Orlando, Soweto.

As an example of his popular foreign acclaim, during his tour of Canada in 1998, he had a speaking engagement in the SkyDome in the city of Toronto, where 45,000 school children greeted him with intense adulation. In 2001, he was the first living person to be made an honorary Canadian citizen.

In 1992 he was awarded the Ataturk Peace Award by Turkey. He refused the award, citing human rights violations committed by Turkey during that time, but later accepted the award in 1999.[16]

He also received Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award (2006).

Mandela's 90th birthday was marked across the country on July 18, 2008, with the main celebrations held at his hometown of Qunu. A concert in his honor was also held in Hyde Park, London. In a speech to mark his birthday, Mandela called for the rich to help poor people across the world. Up until that month, Mandela and ANC party members had been barred from entering the United States—except for the United Nations headquarters in New York—without a special waiver from the U.S. Secretary of State, due to their designation as terrorists by the previous South African apartheid regime.


Mandela has been depicted in cinema and television on multiple occasions. The 1997 film Mandela and de Klerk starred Sidney Poitier as Mandela, while Dennis Haysbert played him in Goodbye Bafana (2007). In the 2009 BBC television film Mrs Mandela, Nelson Mandela was portrayed by David Harewood, and Morgan Freeman portrayed him in Invictus (2009). He is portrayed by Idris Elba in the 2013 film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.


  1. "Manifesto of Umkhonto we Sizwe." Leaflet issued by the Command of Umkhonto we Sizwe. December 16, 1961, Manifesto of Umkhonto we Sizwe. Retrieved May 6, 2007.
  2. Nelson Mandela, "Statement from the dock at the opening of the defense case in the Rivonia Trial." April 20, 1964, Nelson Mandela's statement from the dock at the opening of the defence case in the Rivonia Trial, Pretoria Supreme Court. Retrieved May 19, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Anthony Sampson, Mandela: The Authorised Biography (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011, ISBN 978-0007437979).
  4. Nelson Mandela, Unite! Mobilise! Fight On!, ANC, June 10, 1980. South African History Online. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  5. Isaac Chotiner, "Mandela, Diamond Shill, Half Nelson." The New Republic, Dec. 18, 2006 Half Nelson - Mandela, diamond shill. Retrieved May 6, 2007.
  6. Henry Soszynski, "abaTHEMBU (Tribe)." abaThembu (Tribe).University of Queensland.
  7. Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (Boston, MA: Little Brown and Co., 1995, ISBN 0316548189).
  8. 8.0 8.1 John Carlin, The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela. PBS Frontline, March 20, 2003. Retrieved May 11, 2007.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Desmond Tutu, God Has a Dream. (New York: Doubleday, 2005, ISBN 978-1844135677).
  10. "Mandela Slams Bush on the War in Iraq." Jan. 30, 2003 Mandela Slams Bush on Iraq.CBS News.
  11. "Mandela Slams Bush." KDKA 2 (CBS), January 31, 2003 Mandela Slams Bush. Retrieved May 6, 2007.
  12. "Mandela Responding Well to Treatment." August 15, 2001Mandela 'responding well to treatment'. BBC News. Retrieved May 6, 2007.
  13. David Batty, Nelson Mandela attends World Cup closing ceremony The Guardian, July 11, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  14. Nelson Mandela released from hospital CNN, September 1, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Martin Meredith, Mandela: A Biography (PublicAffairs, 2011, ISBN 978-1586489519).
  16. "Statement on the Araturk Award given to Nelson Mandela." April 12, 1992 Statement on the Ataturk Award given to Nelson Retrieved May 6, 2007.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Benson, Mary. Nelson Mandela: The Man and the Movement. New York, NY: W.W Norton, 1986. ISBN 9780393303223
  • Denenberg, Barry. Nelson Mandela: No Easy Walk to Freedom. New York, NY: Scholastic, 1991. ISBN 978-0590441544
  • Juckes, Tim. Opposition in South Africa: The Leadership of Matthews, Nelson Mandela, and Stephen Biko. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1995. ISBN 9780275948115
  • Mandela, Nelson. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Boston, MA: Little Brown and Co., 1995. ISBN 0316548189
  • Meredith, Martin. Mandela: A Biography. PublicAffairs, 2011. ISBN 978-1586489519
  • Sampson, Anthony. Mandela: The Authorised Biography. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011. ISBN 978-0007437979
  • Smith, Charlene. Mandela: In Celebration of a Great Life. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 2006. ISBN 978-1770073524
  • Tutu, Desmond. God Has A Dream. New York, NY: Doubleday, 2005. ISBN 978-1844135677
  • Villa-Vicencio, Charles. The Spirit of Freedom. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996. ISBN 9780585305851

External links

All links retrieved November 11, 2022.

Preceded by:
Frederik Willem de Klerk
(State President of South Africa)
President of South Africa
Succeeded by:
Thabo Mbeki


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