Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, Transkei, on 18 July 1918. His mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni and his father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. In 1930, when he was 12 years old, his father died and the young Rolihlahla became a ward of Jongintaba at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni.*
Hearing the elders’ stories of his ancestors’ valour during the wars of resistance, he dreamed also of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people. He attended primary school in Qunu where his teacher Miss Mdingane gave him the name Nelson, in accordance with the custom to give all school children “Christian” names.
After a long and arduous struggle he was inaugurated South Africa’s first democratically elected President on 10 May 1994. On his 80th birthday in 1998 he married Graça Machel, his third wife.
True to his promise Nelson Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as President. He continued to work with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund he set up in 1995 and established the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation.
In April 2007 his grandson Mandla Mandela was installed as head of the Mvezo Traditional Council at a ceremony at the Mvezo Great Place.
Nelson Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning. Despite terrible provocation, he never answered racism with racism. His life is an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived; and to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation.
He died at his home in Johannesburg on 5 December 2013.
His legacy will continue to live on for all generations to come.
Source:Nelson Mandela Foundation.
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