Nelson Mandela

The First African-American president of South Africa


“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” -Nelson Mandela

Who is Nelson Mandela? Why is Nelson Mandela so important? Well, that’s why I’m here. Despite Nelson Mandela’s rough adult life, he ended up helping many people and becoming a very important person throughout South Africa.

Early Life

Mandela’s life started in Qunu, South Africa on July 18, 1918. At age five Mandela looked after sheep and cows that would graze on the hillsides. He would have fun running around on the hills and called it his own “outdoor playground”. 1925, when Nelson was seven, he went to a Boarding School. None of his family had ever been to school before. On his first day of school, Mandela’s teacher changed his name from Rholidia Mandela to Nelson Mandela. Five years later, Nelson’s dad died when he was twelve years old. Mandela was then sent to live with his uncle, the chief of the Tembu tribe. When he was there Mandela would listen to the tribe members talking and learned that his family had a hard yet rich past. Many years later, Mandela went to Fort Hare University College.

Adult Life

When Mandela was in college he studied law and the politics of South Africa. Later on, Mandela when studying, then learned and realized that South Africa had been controlled by whites for many years. He thought of this unfair and decided to try to stop it. When Mandela became a policy of the government in 1948 he was 30 years old. After he got his degree he became a lawyer for a few year then decided to join non-violent protests against apartheid. In 1956, Nelson went to prison for his actions against apartheid. He was released five years later in 1961. Mandela married Winnie Ntoko and had two daughters named Zindzi and Zeni. They lived in Johannesburg, South Africa until Zindzi and Zeni were three.

Major Accomplishments

Around Zindzi and Zeni’s third birthday, Nelson went back to jail and this time around, for life. He went to jail once again for his actions against apartheid. As Mandela stayed in jail longer, the worse the prison and the police treated him. Nelson would team up with other men to get meals because they usually wouldn’t get any food. They would sing african songs about freedom and god. Fifteen years later, in 1979, Zindzi and Zeni, his daughters, came to see him. Since they were only to talk about school, family and church, they used code words to communicate. When his daughters left, Mandela felt stronger. Mandela was once again released in 1990, he was in prison for twenty-seven years. Three years after he was released, Nelson won the Nobel Peace Prize for establishing a social change to look at what’s important without the government stopping him. This showed people that anyone can make a difference. One year later, in April, 1994, Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South Africa. Nelson could now fight for equal rights in South Africa. When Nelson Mandela became president, black africans could do what they wanted freely without being arrested. Everyone began to love Nelson and still love him now.


Nelson Mandela lived a long happy life after he was elected president, but is now almost one hundred years old and suffering from memory loss. He is forgetting that all of his family members are dead. The progress of his memory is hopefully getting better.* Even though this tragic thing is happening, Mandela still continues to try to fight for equal rights in South America , and tries hard to do whatever he can to help about apartheid.

*to the right is a picture of Nelson Mandela 5 days ago



Riordan, James, and Neil Reed. The Story of Nelson Mandela. North Mankato, MN: Thameside, 2001. Print.

Hargrove, Jim. Nelson Mandela: South Africa's Silent Voice of Protest. Chicago: Childrens, 1989. Print.

Roop, Peter, Connie Roop, and Rebecca Zomchek. Tales of Famous Heroes. New York: Scholastic Reference, 2010. Print.