20 Dec, 2013

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, born on 18 July 1918, died aged 95 on 5 December 2013 in his home in Johannesburg after a long illness.

He was the first President of South Africa to be elected in fully representative democratic elections. Before his Presidency he was a prominent anti-apartheid activist and leader of the African National Congress (ANC). He qualified as a lawyer in South Africa and in 1952 opened his own law practice in Johannesburg with his partner, Oliver Tambo, another ANC stalwart.

He was imprisoned for 27 years for his involvement in underground armed resistance activities. Throughout his imprisonment he became the most widely-known figure in the struggle against South African apartheid, largely because he consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain freedom. After his release in 1990, Mandela facilitated a peaceful transition to fully-representative democracy in South Africa. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

His contribution to the British legal profession was to be elected an Honorary Bencher of Lincoln's Inn in 1994. He was made an honorary Queen's Counsel by the Department of Constitutional Affairs in 2000.

He celebrated his 90th birthday with a giant concert at London's Hyde Park on 27 June 2008 in support of his AIDS campaign. The 46664 Campaign'named after his prison number - aims to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Exactly 46664 tickets went on sale for the concert, which attracted stars from the world of international entertainment to perform. In July 2010, just before his 92nd birthday, he provided a World Cup dream finale by appearing at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. Almost 85,000 spectators rose to their feet to give him a thunderous welcome. He had had to pull out of the opening ceremony after the death of his great-granddaughter in a car accident hours before.

He is widely seen as the Father of Africa and an exemplary Statesman. It has been said that if only all African leaders emulate him, the continent has the capacity to be the best continent on the planet. 


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