Friday, November 6, 2009
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AS PLAYED BY:
Rolihlahla "Nelson" Mandela was born to a tribal chief in Transkei, a former republic of Africa. His father died when Mandela (given the name Nelson at school) was nine. The tribe was grooming the younger Mandela for a greater role, but he left to become a lawyer.
Mandela joined the ANC in 1943 and set about remaking the organization into a more radical force for change leading the organization's armed wing. Mandela was banned, arrested and imprisoned by the apartheid regime time and again. He spent much of his time evading capture until, in 1964, he was sentenced to life in prison for charges including sabotage and planning armed action. At his trial, Mandela explained that the choice to embrace violence as a tactic was made after all other strategies had failed.
Behind bars, Mandela became a powerful symbol as the anti-apartheid movement gained strength worldwide. Mandela was released on February 11, 1990, after 27 years in prison. He was elected president of the ANC in 1991 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize two years later.
Mandela voted for the first time in his life — and was sworn in as the president of South Africa — in 1994. He stepped down in 1999 and set up three foundations bearing his name.