"The struggle is my life," Nelson Mandela once said. And there are few other lives that have been so full of struggle. Born in South Africa in 1918, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela studied to become a lawyer. He then devoted his life to fighting apartheid, the official policy of racial segregation practiced by the South African government.
Mandela joined the African National Congress, which led the struggle. Because of his actions with this group he was convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life in prison in 1964. As an international campaign mounted pressure against the government, Mandela was released in 1990. He was elected president of the ANC and was an influential force in the peace negotiations that abolished apartheid.
In 1994, Mandela was elected president of South Africa in the country's first multi-racial, democratic elections. He served as president until 1999. Mandela died on Dec. 5, 2013, at the age of 95. "What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived," he once said. "It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead."
Nelson Mandela Foundation
Focusing on the life and times of Nelson Mandela, its mission is "To contribute to the making of a just society by keeping alive the legacy of Nelson Mandela, providing an integrated public information resource on his life and times, and by convening dialogue around critical social issues."
Read a biography of Mandela that highlights his major achievements.
The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela
This multimedia site from PBS chronicles Mandela's eventful life. Read articles and letters and see rare photos and video of the South African leader.
Nobel Peace Prize
Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for ending apartheid in South Africa. The Nobel Committee praised their actions, saying, "By looking ahead to South African reconciliation instead of back at the deep wounds of the past, they have shown personal integrity and great political courage."
Time Magazine selected Mandela as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century for his courageous fight for freedom. Sharing the designation with de Klerk and Middle East peacemakers, Mandela was also selected as an influential person by Time Magazine in 1993. Mandela's peace deal, though not complete at the time, ended years of oppression in his home country.
African National Congress
Mandela's political party offers a comprehensive biography and links to more information, speeches and photos.
Nelson Mandela Children's Fund
Mandela founded this organization to combat HIV/AIDS, provide access to education and stimulate economic growth in South Africa.