Nelson Mandela: 1918 - 2013

By: Josh Jones Word Count: 572

Mandela 1918 - 1937

Nelson Mandela was born on the 18th of July, 1918 into the Thembu royal family because his father was the tribe leader. He dedicated his life to fighting against apartheid, a political system, mainly in South Africa with the whites having dominance over the blacks.


After the death of Mandela’s father in 1927, he was placed under the care of his father's cousin named Jongingtaba Dalindyeba. It was at Wesleyan mission primary school that he first attended, that he was given the name Nelson. Instead of taking the usual three years to complete his Junior Certification, Nelson was through in 2 years, showing that he was a very talented student. During these years, Mandela was pressured to believe that the white faction had more rights then the blacks. This proves that Nelson Mandela had felt discrimination for years.


From there he went (in 1937) to the usual college for Thembu royalty, which was Fort Hare university and the university of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg where he studied law.

A long walk to freedom

ANC and Apartheid

During his time at university, Mandela joined the African National Congress. The ANC were a group who wanted to end apartheid. In his early days as a lawyer, he was often arrested for activities against the government, and in 1961 led a radical campaign against the government. In 1962, Mandela was condemned to life in prison for trying to bring down the government. In the first 18 years of Nelson Mandela's prison sentence, he was at Robben island which was 5 miles (8 km) away from Johannesburg. His cell in prison was only 2x2 meters, so every morning Mandela would roll up his bed, as most of his prison cell space was taken up by bookshelves and his desk. The extra bookshelves were made entirely of cardboard, plastic and other scraps found around the prison. 27 years later, after an international campaign, Mandela was released from prison. He joined discussions with the president of South Africa to get rid of apartheid and establish elections for everybody, not just whites. Apartheid ended in 1994, when Mandela became the first black president of South Africa. This day is one of the greatest days in history, because it shows that Mandela worked so hard to create equality, and in the end, he was proud, even after all of the times he failed. In 1995, Mandela set up the truth and reconciliation commission to investigate previous racial crimes, and to make sure apartheid was completely finished.

"Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again"

Nelson Mandela was a man of huge charisma and great dignity, and this was shown by his skills of uniting South Africa.


Mandela is famous for many quotes, and this is my favourite as it shows that if you don't give up, you do get success. If you try, you can do something amazing. This is what Mandela believed, and it shows never to give up, even after so much political isolation.


"Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again"


Another one of my favourite quotes is "A winner is a dreamer who never gives up"

This is because, like the first quote, it shows perseverance and being knowledgeable towards others, and caring for others as well as yourself.

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