Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela born 18 July 1918) is a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.
He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative, multiracial election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheidthrough tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist anddemocratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997.
Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from
1998 to 1999.
A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, Mandela attended Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Living in Johannesburg, he became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. After the Afrikaner nationalists of the National Party came to power in 1948 and began implementing the policy of apartheid, he rose to prominence in the ANC's 1952 Defiance Campaign, was elected President of the
Transvaal ANC Branch and oversaw the 1955Congress of the People. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and, with the ANC leadership, was prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961 but was found not guilty.
Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the South African
Communist Party he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961, leading a bombing campaign against government targets. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.
Mandela served 27 years in prison, first on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor
Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Becoming ANC President,
Mandela publishedhis autobiography and led negotiations with President F.W. de
Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the
ANC to victory. He was elected President and formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to defuse ethnic tensions. As