Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 into the South African Thembu royal family.
His name comes from Xhosa, one of the official languages of South Africa.
Mandela enrolled at the University College of Fort Hare in 1939 and completed his B.A. at University of South Africa, which was often considered Africa’s equivalent of Harvard.
Mandela was arranged for a marriage after coming back from college, but fled the marriage and settled in Johannesburg. Mandela ended up being married three times, having six children. (Pictured above: Mandela with his second wife, Winnie Madikizela).
Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1942, and dedicated his time to becoming actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement.
As part of joining the ANC in 1942, Mandela helped orchestrate 20 years directing peaceful, nonviolent acts of defiance against the South African government and its racist policies.
In 1961, Mandela was incarcerated and sentenced to 27 years in prison after leading a 3-day national workers strike.
Mandela was able to earn a Bachelor of Law degree through a University of London correspondence program. Sorry, T.I., Lindsay Lohan and Lil Wayne.
That’s right. In 1991, one year after his release from prison, he was elected president of the African National Congress.
In 1993, Mandela and South African President F.W. de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their peaceful termination of South Africa’s apartheid regime.
South Africa held its first democratic Presidential elections in 1994.
Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president, serving from 1994 – 1999.
In 2007, Mandela assembled a group of world leaders including Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Li Zhaoxing, Muhammad Yunus and others, to address the world’s toughest issues. The group is committed to working publicly and privately to find solutions to global issues.
In 2009, Mandela’s birthday, July 18, was officially declared Mandela Day. It is internationally recognized.
Congratulations, Mr. Mandela, on 94 years of badass legacy.