Nelson Mandela, who died Dec. 5 at age 95 after a long illness, triumphed over personal suffering, institutionalized racism and political oppression to become the first black president of a multiracial South Africa—and one of the titans of the 20th century.
His death was announced to the South African people in a late night address by President Jacob Zuma.
Mandela was born July 18, 1918, in a village in South Africa's Cape Province. His birth name was Rolihlahla, which means "troublemaker" in his native Xhosa. (He was given the name Nelson later, in the tradition of schoolchildren having non-African names.) Many South Africans still refer to him by his clan name: Madiba.
During the 1940s, he was active in the African National Congress, which fought for the rights of majority blacks. He became a member of the ANC's national executive committee in 1950.
On Dec. 5, 1956, Mandela was among the ANC leaders arrested on charges of high treason. After a nearly five-year trial, he was found not guilty. But in 1964, he was sentenced to life in prison on charges of sabotage. He served more than 26 years—first in the notorious Robben Island prison, working in a lime quarry, and later at Pollsmoor and Victor Verster.
Amid anti-apartheid protests, President F.W. de Klerk freed Mandela in February 1990. And the rest is history.
—By Marty Steinberg, CNBC.com
Posted 5 Dec. 2013