Nelson Mandela was born on 18 July 1918. His father Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa served as Chief of the town of Mvezo in South Africa. Upon alienating the colonial authorities in his home town, he moved his family to Qunu. Mandela was born to his father’s third wife Nosekeni Fanny. However, he was the first member of his family to attend a school. His teacher Miss Mdingane gave him the English name ‘Nelson’. After the victory in the election of the African-dominated National Party in 1948, Mandela began actively participating in politics. Mahatma Gandhi had influenced Mandela’s approach and the methods of South African anti-apartheid activities. In 1959 the ANC (African National Congress) lost its support from Ghana and broke away to form the PAC (Pan Africanist Congress). In 1961 Mandela became the leader of the ANC’s armed wing. On 5 August 1962, he was arrested and stayed behind bars for 28 years.
During his years in prison, his reputation grew steadily and he was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
On 11 February 1990, he was released from Victor Verster Prison. South Africa’s first multi-racial elections were held on 27 April 1994 and, winning the election, Mandela became the first black President of the country on 10 May 1994. Mandela married three times and fathered six children. He retired from the Presidentship in 1999. He received many South African and international honours including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He was in his lifetime a symbol of world peace.
Nelson Mandela breathed his last on 6 December 2013 at his Johannesburg home. He was 95 at the time of his death. Virtually every world leader, including top leaders from India, attended the funeral of the departed world leader. National flags across the world slid to half-mast. India declared a 5- day state mourning for the man who was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and prevented his nation from tipping into a racial convulsion after the end of White rule.
He was buried in a funeral with full state honours on December 15 in his childhood village of Qunu. While he was laid to eternal nest, the teary-eyed friends paid poignant tributes to the anti-apartheid icon at a traditional funeral ceremony.