Mandela, Nelson

born 1918

South African political leader. He earned (1942) a law degree from the Univ. of South Africa and was prominent in Johannesburg's youth wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1952 he became ANC deputy national president, advocating nonviolent resistance to Apartheid. However, after a group of peaceful demonstrators were massacred (1960) in Sharpeville, Mandela organized a paramilitary branch of the ANC to carry out guerrilla warfare against the white government. After being acquitted (1962) on charges of treason, he was arrested (1964) and convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life in prison, where he became the leading symbol of South Africa's oppressed black majority. Released in 1990 as an expression of President De Klerk's committment to change, Mandela was elected (July, 1991) ANC president after a triumphal global tour. He represented the ANC in the turbulent negotiations that led to establishment of majority rule. Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1993. In South Africa's first multiracial elections (1994), Mandela was elected president, and served until 1999, when Thabo Mbeki succeeded him.

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