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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
In 1937, Mandela entered Healdtown, a Methodist secondary school, where he became interested in native African culture.
In 1950, he became a member of the executive committee of the African National Congress, which he had joined in 1944 after several years of activism.
As a leader of the ANC, Mandela (second from right) and other militants arrive for their treason trial in 1956.
Eight men, including Mandela, are taken from the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, where they were sentenced to life in prison on charges of conspiracy, sabotage and sedition. Here, a few of them show defiance through the barred windows of a police vehicle in June 1964.
Mandela and his second wife, Winnie, at their wedding in 1957. They had two children and divorced in 1996.
Mandela, pictured here in the 1960s, enjoyed long-distance running and boxing as a younger man.
Supporters hail the Mandelas upon his release from Victor Verster prison on Feb. 11, 1990.
Soweto, a black township in Johannesburg, became a symbol and a center of resistance to apartheid. In this October 1990 photo, Mandela hugs a young girl during a visit to the town, whose name is an acronym for South Western Township.
On June 26, 1990, Mandela addressed a joint session of Congress. In this photo, House Speaker Thomas Foley (left) and Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd are among the admirers.
In December 1993, Mandela and South African President F.W. de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize. On the eve of the ceremony, they shook hands at the Grand Hotel in Oslo.
Arriving in Mmabatho in March 1994, Mandela greets crowds at his first campaign rally for the April vote—South Africa's first democratic and all-race general election.
Young people in a township outside Durban climbed a billboard to get a better view of Mandela at this election event.
On April 27, 1994, Mandela cast his vote in Oshlange, a black township near Durban.
Mandela won the election, becoming South Africa's first black president. He was sworn in on May 10, 1994, in Cape Town during the first session of the country's post-apartheid parliament. He served as president until 1999.
In 1995, Mandela visited his old prison cell on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town.
During the visit, Mandela chipped a rock in the quarry where he endured hard labor for 12 of his 19 years on Robben Island.
Dressed in leopard skin, Mandela releases a dove during this 1995 rally to commemorate the anniversary of the 1960 massacre by police of 69 demonstrators in Sharpeville.
Britain's Princess Diana meets Mandela in Cape Town in 1997, five months before she died.
Mandela welcomes Fidel Castro to Durban at the opening of the 12th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement on Sept. 2, 1998.
Mandela delivered a speech in Afrikaans, the language of the Dutch settlers, on July 4, 2001, at the Little Karoo National Arts Festival, where he was presented with a book of poetry.
He wore a red ribbon to honor victims of AIDS, which affected South Africa particularly hard, and pressed for his successor, Thabo Mbeki, to adopt policies to fight the disease. Mandela was treated for prostate cancer that year.
During another visit to Robben Island, Mandela addresses a news conference in front of his former prison cell in November 2003.
Three days after his 88th birthday, in 2006, Mandela celebrated at the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund in Saxonwold, a suburb or Johannesburg.
With his third wife, Graça Machel, Mandela attends a statue-unveiling ceremony at Parliament Square in London on Aug. 29, 2007.
Mandela shares a relaxed moment with former President Bill Clinton at the Walter Sisulu Pediatric Cardiac Center for Africa at Sunninghill Hospital in September 2009.
Workers from the Hunter's Rest Hotel near Rustenburg, South Africa, greet Mandela in 2009.
South Africa soccer fans show their support for Mandela at the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup match between South Africa and Mexico on June 11, 2010, in Johannesburg.
Supporters sing while touching a flag with Mandela's image on June 27, 2013 outside Pretoria's Mediclinic Heart Hospital, where the former president was being treated for a lung infection.
As Mandela's condition deteriorated, well-wishers also gathered outside his house in Soweto on June 27.
Three years before Barack Obama's historic election as president, Mandela met in Washington with the then-U.S. senator from Illinois in 2005. But because of Mandela's condition, two of the most influential blacks of the 20th and 21st centuries did not meet when Obama was visiting South Africa in late June. Mandela's wife, Graça, said she was "humbled" by a phone call she received from Obama. In this photo, Obama speaks during a town hall meeting at the University of Johannesburg Soweto on June 28.
In a tribute after Mandela's death, Obama said: "He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages."
Mandela celebrated his 90th birthday in London in 2008. In this photo, he was seen leaving the Intercontinental Hotel in London on June 26, 2008, one day before a Hyde Park concert celebration.