This brief Nelson Mandela biography illustrates his unwavering positive attitude and true leadership qualities.

Nelson Mandela was a talented true leader and his relentless determination to uphold a positive attitude against all odds, is remarkable.  This legend of a man shines like an inspirational star in our troubled times.

Nelson Mandela biography : His early childhood

Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in Mvezo, a rural African village. His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, served as counselor to Jongintaba Dalindyeb, chief of the Thembu people.

Mandela spent his early years as a herd boy, but his life changed forever when at the age of nine years, his father died.

Rolihlahla was adopted by Jongintaba and lived at the royal residence with the chief’s two children. It was here that he heard stories of his ancestor’s resistance in the face of battle and repression. Here that his dream to participate in the freedom struggle of his people, was born.

In accordance with the custom, Mandela was given his British name of Nelson at his primary school in Qunu. He later achieved academic success at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and Wesleyan College, where he also excelled at track and boxing.

Nelson Mandela biography : His fight against apartheid

In  1939, Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University College of Fort Hare. However, he was expelled for joining a student protest and completed his degree through the University of South Africa in 1943. He then did his articles at Witkin Eidelman and Sidelsky attorneys.

Mandela embraced the anti-apartheid movement and co-founded the African National Congress Youth League. Reflecting his positive attitude and displaying inherent leadership qualities, he spent twenty years directing non-violent acts of defiance against racist policies. Together with Oliver Thambo he founded a law firm offering free and low-cost legal counsel to unrepresented blacks.

Finally, losing confidence in ineffective non-violent protests, Mandela co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe, a militant group. He was arrested in 1963 for numerous political offences and sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.

Nelson Mandela biography : His captive years

During imprisonment, Mandela’s steadfast positive attitude shone through and he earned a Bachelor of Law degree through a British correspondence programme.  Meanwhile, his ideal of racial equality continued to inspire his countrymen, attracting powerful international support.

In 1985, President P.W. Botha offered Mandela his freedom in exchange for renouncing the armed struggle, but Mandela refused. The ensuing years brought increased local and international pressure to release him unconditionally.

Nelson Mandela biography : Realising his ideal

Mandela was finally released in 1990 and called for continued pressure from foreign powers, until his ultimate dream was realized – voting rights for blacks. Thus showing that victory is attainable for those true leaders who can uphold a positive attutide, even under the most trying circumstances.

Nelson Mandela biography : Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Mandela and President de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their efforts to dissolve the Apartheid regime.

The first democratic elections were held on 27 April 1994 and Nelson Mandela became the country’s first black president, with de Klerk as his deputy.

“If you can draw strength from a source that is not affected by overwhelming negative or discouraging external circumstances, your ‘flame’ will not be extinguished.” – Nelson Mandela