Nelson Rohlilahla Mandela
Nelson Mandela has been hailed as “the greatest and most courageous leader of our
”. In a life of personal sacrifice, he dedicated himself to the struggle against apartheid
in South Africa, an era which came to end with the country’s first multi-racial elections on 27 April
The African National Congress won the election and, as head of the party, Nelson Mandela was
inaugurated as South Africa’s first black President on 10 May 1994. He went on to form a
Government of National Unity, before stepping down after one term of office in 1999.
Rise to power
Nelson Mandela was born in the Transkei, South Africa on 18 July 1918. His father, Henry
Mgadla Mandela, was chief counsellor to Thembuland’s acting paramount chief, David
Dalindyebo. Upon Henry Mandela’s death in 1927, the young Nelson became the chief’s ward,
and was groomed as a future leader.
Mr. Mandela was educated at Wesleyan secondary school, Healdtown before attending
University College of Fort Hare in pursuit of his Bachelor of Arts degree. Upon completing his BA,
he began studying law in 1942. It was whilst studying that Mr. Mandela made his first forays into
politics, joining the African National Congress in 1943.
In 1944, Mr. Mandela was one of the group of young ANC members who banded together under
the leadership of Anton Lembede to form the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL),
which strove to change the ANC into a mass movement with a more radical agenda grounded in
the principles of self-determination. By 1948, Mr. Mandela had been elected National Secretary of
the League. In response to the victory of the National Party in the all-white elections of 1948, the
ANC adopted the Programme of Action, based on ANCYL policies, which advocated the use of
boycotts, strikes, civil disobedience and non-cooperation.
During the 1950s, Mr. Mandela fought hard for the freedom of his people, organising resistance to