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Nelson Mandela (July 18, 1918 — December 5, 2013) was a Black nationalist and the first Black president of South Africa (1994–99). His negotiations in the early 1990s with South African Pres. F.W. de Klerk helped end the country’s apartheid system of racial segregation and ushered in a peaceful transition to majority rule. Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Prize for Peace in 1993 for their efforts. Nelson was born Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. He attended South African Native College (later the University of Fort Hare) and studied law at the University of the Witwatersrand. He later passed the qualification exam to become a lawyer. I

n 1944, he joined the African National Congress (ANC), a Black-liberation group, and became a leader of its Youth League. Mandela subsequently held other ANC leadership positions, through which he helped revitalize the organization and oppose the apartheid policies of the ruling National Party.
When the government prohibited the ANC for racial reasons, Mandela organized a secret military movement. He had previously been involved in peaceful protests but when they were met with violence from the government, he went on to support an armed movement. Mandela was imprisoned from 1962-1990 for treason and conspiracy against the government. He was sentenced to life in prison but was released early when the ANC became legal again. While he was in prison, Mandela was a symbol to rally behind for the oppressed in South Africa who were fighting for rights.

Mandela is considered the father of Modern South Africa. He was instrumental in tearing down the oppressive government and installing democracy. Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for peacefully destroying the Apartheid regime and laying the foundation for democracy. In addition to the Nobel Peace Prize, he won over 250 other awards. After retirement from politics, Mandela started the Nelson Mandela Foundation that focused on combating HIV/AIDS and supported rural development and school construction. In 2009, the United Nations proclaimed Mandela’s birthday (July 18th) to be Nelson Mandela International Day. The holiday asks people to spend 67 minutes doing something good for others, which represents the 67 years he spent working toward change.