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A Biography About Nelson Mandela – Life, History, Achievements And Facts Of Nelson Mandela

a biography about nelson mandela
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18th July 1918, which is Nelson Mandela’s birthday, is declared by the United Nations as Nelson Mandela International Day. As we celebrate this wondrous day of one of the most fearless men of human history, let us recount some prominent events of his life. A biography about Nelson Mandela covers quotes about Nelson Mandela, facts about Nelson Mandela, and details about Nelson Mandela achievements. Let us now dive deep into Nelson Mandela’s life and find out what Nelson Mandela was known for.

Who Was Nelson Mandela And What Was He Known For?

Nelson Mandela, born July 18th, 1918 was a prominent South African anti-apartheid activist who also served as the first President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first democratically elected black president; his becoming the first black president in a white-ruled country was a tight slap to the Conservatives. 

During the five years he headed the country as head of state, he focussed on eliminating the concept of apartheid, or ‘aparthood’ from the country. Read on for a biography about Nelson Mandela and facts about Nelson Mandela.

A Biography About Nelson Mandela

what Nelson Mandela was known for

Nelson Mandela – Life And Education

Nelson Mandela was born as Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18th, 1918 into the Xhosa Thembu tribe. In his childhood, he was also called Madiba. One of his teachers, in his childhood, added the name ‘Nelson’ to his original name, thus making his name Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. His father, the chief of his tribe, passed away when Mandela was still young, and thus, Mandela was raised by the regent of his tribe. When he got old enough, he was offered a claim to the chieftainship, but he gave it up to practice law.

In 1933, Mandela began his secondary education at Clarkebury Methodist High School in Engcobo. After completing his Junior Certificate in just two years, he moved to Healdtown, a Methodist college in Fort Beaufort. 

He attended the South African Native College (now called the University of Fort Hare), where he completed a major part of his studies. He later completed his law degree from the University of Witwatersrand. Keep reading for Nelson Mandela achievements and history.

History And Struggles Of Nelson Mandela 

In 1944, Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC), a black-liberation and anti-apartheid group. Shortly after, he became the leader of the Youth League of the ANC. That very year, he met and married Evelyn Ntoko Mase. In 1952, Nelson, along with fellow ANC leader Oliver Tambo established South Africa’s first Black law practice. They specialized in cases from the post-1948 aparthood or apartheid legislation. Three years later, in 1955, he got involved in drafting the Freedom Charter, the document popularly known for a voice raised against racism in African society. 

The English government, who had colonized South Africa at that time, became aware of Mandela’s doings and sporadically banned him. Severe travel, speech, and association restrictions were placed. In December 1956, more than a hundred people were arrested on charges of treason, and Mandela was one of those hundred. Owing to his experience in law, he went on trial in the same year and was acquitted in 1961. During the court proceedings that went on for quite an extended period of time, Mandela divorced his wife Evelyn Ntoko Mase due to “irreconcilable differences” and married Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela.

About three years after his acquittal, Mandela was incarcerated by the government on various charges specifically designed to unleash chaos and suffering onto the blacks. For eighteen years, from 1964 to 1982, Nelson was kept imprisoned at Robben Island near Cape Town, after which he was transferred to maximum-security Pollsmoor Prison citing “security reasons”. He stayed there till 1988 and again was moved to Victor Verster Prison near Paarl as he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. 

The South African government made many offers of conditional freedom to Mandela, out of which the 1976 one is the most prominent. He was offered release, on the condition that he would recognize the highly controversial Transkei Bantustan government, and agree to live there. In 1985, the government agreed to release him if he renounced violence. However, Mandela denied the offer as only free men were allowed to negotiate, and in prison, he was not a free man. He retained huge and wide support throughout his imprisonment, and he became the face of the community that condemned apartheid. 

The government under President FW de Klerk released Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela on February 11, 1990 from prison. He was shortly after chosen as vice-president, and then president of the ANC. He led the negotiations with de Klerk as the president of ANC to bring a peaceful and non-violent transition to a non-racial democracy in South Africa.

Under Mandela’s leadership, the ANC won South Africa’s first elections, fair and square. On May 10, 1994, Mandela was sworn in as the president of the country. This was the country’s first multiethnic government, and South Africa had nowhere but up and up to go from that day onwards.

Mandela And MK Gandhi

It is worth noting that Mandela’s struggle philosophies were quite similar to Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha philosophy. Mandela referred to MK Gandhi as his role model. In fact, Nelson Mandela was called ‘Gandhi of South Africa’ due to the similarities in the thought processes of both leaders. Nelson Mandela fought with words, not weapons. 

mandela and mahatma gandhi

Even when imprisoned, he behaved very courteously with all his inmates as well as his jailer and superintendents. He knew that all the policemen were only doing their job, and it was of no use to hate them for something they were bound to do. 

Nelson Mandela Achievements

Over a span of 40 years, Nelson Mandela received over 260 honors. Here are the most prominent among them – 

  1. Scientists at the University of Leeds name a nuclear particle after Mandela, the ‘Mandela Particle’.
  1. Honorary citizenships of Canada, Rome, Olympia, Rio de Janeiro, Florence, Egaleo, Ellenikon, Glyfada, Ilioupolis, Daissariani, New Filadelfia, Nikaea, Preveza, Zogrofu, and Bologna.
  1. Nelson Mandela was a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993

Facts About Nelson Mandela

On this occasion of Nelson Mandela International Day, in a biography about Nelson Mandela, here are a few lesser-known facts about Nelson Mandela for you –

  1. The name ‘Nelson’ wasn’t originally a part of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s name.
  2. Nelson Mandela’s height was 1.84m.
  3. Mandela was born into a royal family.
  4. The Australopicus nelsonmandelai is a bird named after Nelson Mandela.
  5. In his youth, Mandela was a heavyweight boxer and practiced it intensely.
  6. Mandela played a cameo in the movie ‘Malcolm X’.
  7. After being released from prison, Mandela immediately had Chicken Curry, his favorite food.
  8. Nelson Mandela was prisoner number 46664 during his incarceration.
  9. At the age of 92, Mandela made his final public appearance at the World Cup closing ceremony in 2010.
  10. Mandela died on 5 December 2013, at the age of 95 due to a lung infection.

Quotes About Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was a great freedom struggle and anti-apartheid activist, and the world continues to get inspired by him. He gave up his entire life in service to the country, and his struggles ensure that, to this date, everybody in South Africa is living a nonracial life, free of apartheid, discrimination, and bias.

Here are a few quotes about Nelson Mandela for you to share and gain optimism and inspiration from:

  1. “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”
  1. “A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.”
  1. “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
  1. “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
  1. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
  1. “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”
  1. “I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”
  1. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
  1. “Many people in this country have paid the price before me and many will pay the price after me.”
  1. “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
  1. “Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.”
  1. “It is in the character of growth that we should learn from both pleasant and unpleasant experiences.”
  1. “It is not our diversity which divides us; it is not our ethnicity, or religion or culture that divides us. Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: between those who cherish democracy and those who do not.”
  1. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
  1. “A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favor. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution so that it can protect our rights as citizens.”


This article was a biography about Nelson Mandela that covered major portions of his life and his contribution to the South African struggle for a multiethnic government. Quotes about Nelson Mandela shared in this post are some of the most famous and inspiring quotes of Nelson Mandela. The section “what Nelson Mandela was known for” is a must-read, with some very important details of his life being discussed there. We also went through Nelson Mandela achievements, which include the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Now, when someone asks you what Nelson Mandela was known for, you can proudly show all the knowledge you have gained through this article about the life of Nelson Mandela! For more such articles, keep following Trending Reader.

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