Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (Xhosa pronunciation: [xoˈliːɬaɬa manˈdeːla]; born 18 July 1918) is a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative, multiracial election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.
A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, Mandela attended Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Living in Johannesburg, he became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. After the Afrikaner nationalists of the National Party came to power in 1948 and began implementing the policy of apartheid, he rose to prominence in the ANC’s 1952 Defiance Campaign, was elected President of the Transvaal ANC Branch and oversaw the 1955 Congress of the People. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and, with the ANC leadership, was prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961 but was found not guilty. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the South African Communist Party he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961, leading a bombing campaign against government targets. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.
Mandela served 27 years in prison, first on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Becoming ANC President, Mandela published his autobiography and led negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory. He was elected President and formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to diffuse ethnic tensions. As President, he established a new constitution and initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Continuing the former government’s liberal economic policy, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho. He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy Thabo Mbeki, subsequently becoming an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Controversial for much of his life, right-wing critics denounced Mandela as a terrorist and communist sympathiser. He has nevertheless received international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, having received over 250 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Order of Lenin. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name of Madiba or as tata; he is often described as “the father of the nation”.
Official says Nelson Mandela on life support; Zuma cancels travel plans
Reports: Nelson Mandela on life support
- NEW: South African president cancels Thursday’s trip to Mozambique
- Mandela is now on life support, an official says
- Family collects some of the items left outside the hospital by well-wishers
Pretoria, South Africa (CNN) — South Africans lit candles outside the hospital where anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela lay Wednesday night amid a report that the former president was on life support.
An official briefed on his condition said he was on life support, but government spokesman Mac Maharaj declined to comment on the report, citing doctor-patient confidentiality.
Mandela, 94, considered the founding father of South Africa’s multiracial democracy, has been hospitalized since June 8 for a recurring lung infection.
Authorities have described his condition as critical since Sunday, and after visiting him late Wednesday night, President Jacob Zuma canceled his visit to Mozambique where he was supposed to attend a summit Thursday on infrastructure investment.
As the nation remained on edge, police barricaded the street leading to the hospital’s main entrance. Well-wishers hung balloons, stuffed animals and messages of support along the wall, and crowds hovering nearby sang “Where is Mandela?”
Reports: Nelson Mandela on life support
Daughter: He is at peace
The whole world prays for one man
“We need you!,” one sign read. “We love you tata, get well soon!” said another, referring to Mandela by the Xhosa word for father.
Several relatives came out to collect some of those items Wednesday.
“He’s going to feel a lot better when he sees these signs,” said David Manaway, Mandela’s grandson-in-law.
His former physician and the nation’s ex-surgeon general, Dr. Vejay Ramlakan, also visited the hospital Wednesday, said the national news agency, South African Press Association.
Mandela became an international figure while enduring 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid, the country’s system of racial segregation. He was elected the nation’s first black president in 1994, four years after he was freed.
“He is our hero. He is my mentor, my father. He is everything to me,” said Kuda Nyahumzvi, 36. “But when it is his time, we wish his soul could just rest. He spent so long in jail and struggling.”
Even as he has faded from the spotlight, he remains popular and is considered a hero of democracy worldwide.
As South Africans steeled themselves for the worst, details emerged about the family’s meeting in his boyhood home of Qunu on Tuesday. An archbishop also stopped by the hospital and conducted prayers, calling for “a quiet night and a peaceful, perfect end” for the former president.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba joined the family at the hospital where Mandela remained in critical condition, the South African Press Association reported.
“Fill them with your holy courage and the gift of trusting faith, and take away their fears so that they may dare to face their grief,” he said, according to a copy of the prayer posted on the bishop’s website.
“And uphold all of us with your steadfast love so that we may be filled with gratitude for all the good that he has done for us and for our nation, and may honor his legacy through our lives.”
During the meeting in Qunu, funeral arrangements were not part of the talks, family friend Bantu Holomisa said, according to SAPA.
As a former head of state, plans for Mandela’s funeral are spearheaded by the government, according to Holomisa.
Mandela turns 95 in July.
CNN’s Faith Karimi wrote and contributed from Atlanta. CNN’s Brent Swails, Matt Smith, Catherine E. Shoichet, John Raedler and Michael Martinez contributed to this report.
Mandela Is Suffering From a Lung Infection
In Soweto, an area of Johannesburg, a resident walked past images of Nelson Mandela, the 94-year-old former president of South Africa and hero of the antiapartheid movement, who remained hospitalized on Tuesday.
Published: December 11, 2012
JOHANNESBURG — Former President Nelson Mandela, who has been hospitalized since Saturday, is suffering from a recurrence of a lung infection and is responding to treatment, the office of South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma, announced on Tuesday.
Mr. Mandela, who is 94 and increasingly frail, was said by Mr. Zuma’s office to be “receiving appropriate treatment and he is responding to the treatment.”
Mr. Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, retired from public life some years ago, and was last seen publicly at the celebrations for the World Cup soccer tournament in 2010, although he receives frequent visits from old friends and visiting dignitaries.
In January 2011, he was hospitalized for an acute respiratory infection, and the news of that illness set off a panic about his health.
When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited South Africa in August, she stopped by his home in the rural Eastern Cape village of Qunu to see him. In a photograph of the two of them Mr. Mandela beamed his trademark grin, but looked frail seated in an armchair and dressed in a gray cardigan.
Nelson Mandela suffering from lung infection and ‘sparkle fading’
Nelson Mandela is losing his trademark “sparkle”, according to his wife, as the South African government announced he is suffering from a recurrence of a lung infection.
9:18AM GMT 11 Dec 2012
A government statement said the South African former president is responding to treatment for the infection.
Separately, his wife Graca Machel said in an interview it was painful to see the anti-Apartheid hero “ageing.”
“I mean, this spirit and this sparkle, you see that somehow it’s fading,” she told ENews Central Africa (ENCA) on Monday in her first interview since Mr Mandela was admitted to hospital at the weekend.
South African government officials have said the former president is comfortable and does not face immediate danger, but they refuse to speculate on when he is likely to be discharged from a Pretoria military hospital.
Mr Mandela, 94, was at the weekend admitted to hospital for tests that authorities say are expected of people of his age.
“To see him ageing, it’s something also which pains you … You understand and you know it has to happen,” said Graca.
Mr Mandela’s granddaughter Ndileka told the same TV network that he has taken to accept his condition.
“I think he takes it in his strides, he has come to accept that it’s part of growing old, and it’s part of humanity as such. At some point you will dependent on someone else, he has come to embrace it,” she said.
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the defence minister, visited Mr Mandela on Monday and said the revered statesman was “doing very, very well”.
The presidency said it was too early to give an update as they have to hear first from the doctor.
Nelson Mandela ‘has stopped talking’
South African leaders issued assurances about the health of former president Nelson Mandela on Sunday night after the 94 year-old was airlifted to hospital having reportedly stopped speaking amid a deterioration in his condition.
By Erin Conway-Smith, Cape Town
4:28PM GMT 09 Dec 2012
The Sunday Times, a South African newspaper, quoted an unnamed person close to the Mandela family as saying: “He has not been talking … he is not looking good. It’s clear that something is troubling him.”
Mr Mandela, the country’s first black president, spent a second day at the Pretoria hospital where he is said to be undergoing tests. On Saturday he was flown from his rural home in the Eastern Cape to the capital Pretoria to receive medical attention.
President Jacob Zuma visited Mr Mandela, whose health has been frail in recent years, and “found him comfortable, and in good care,” a statement said.
No details have been released about the specific reason for Mr Mandela’s admission to hospital, or when he will be discharged.
Mac Maharaj, a spokesman for Mr Zuma, on Saturday said the anti-apartheid icon was “doing well”.
Mr Mandela, affectionately known in South Africa as “Madiba,” his Xhosa clan name, “will receive medical attention from time to time which is consistent with his age,” a statement on Saturday said.
Former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and daughter Zindzi seemed to not view it as an emergency, or else were unaware that Mr Mandela had been transferred to Pretoria. They attended a football match in Soweto between the Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday, local media reported.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions, allied with the ruling African National Congress party, responded in a statement: “We hope that it is true – as reported by the presidential spokesperson – there is no cause for concern or alarm.”
Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe had been scheduled to visit Mr Mandela in Qunu on Friday, but the meeting was cancelled.
A South African military plane crashed Wednesday after disappearing en route from a Pretoria air base to Mthatha, the nearest airport to Mr Mandela’s home in Qunu village.
There have been persistent rumours that the aircraft was carrying medical personnel or medical supplies for Mr Mandela.
Mr Mandela was last hospitalised in February for what was described as “routine tests,” and later turned out to have been a minor surgical procedure to determine the cause of abdominal pain.
His last public appearance was at the final match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which South Africa hosted, where he toured the stadium on a golf cart with third wife Graca Machel.
Nelson Mandela Health Concerns Grow
By JON GAMBRELL 12/14/12 11:26 AM ET EST
JOHANNESBURG — Where is Nelson Mandela?
As the 94-year-old patriarch of South Africa’s democracy entered his seventh day of hospitalization Friday for a recurring lung infection, confusion grew as government officials appeared to contradict themselves over where he is being treated.
With the government refusing to say where Mandela is, concern grew across this nation of 50 million people about the health of the anti-apartheid icon.
Mandela, admitted Saturday to a hospital, was thought to have been at 1 Military Hospital near South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, after Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said she visited the leader there Monday. But when local media reported that Mandela wasn’t at that hospital Thursday night, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj declined to give the whereabouts of the ailing politician.
“President Mandela is being treated at a Pretoria hospital as said from the first statement we issued,” Maharaj said. “We have refrained from disclosing the hospital in order to ensure privacy and also to allow doctors space to do their work of caring for (him) without interruptions or undue pressure.”
It was not immediately clear if Mandela had been moved or if he had been at a different facility during his entire seven-day hospitalization, his longest since 2001, when he underwent radiation therapy after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
On Monday, addressing journalists after her visit, Mapisa-Nqakula said: “We confirm that former President Mandela is in (the) hospital, 1 Military Hospital, and he’s doing very, very well.”
Sonwabo Mbananga, a defense department spokesman, said Friday that “the minister is not going to clarify anything” about her remarks Monday and declined to comment further.
On Friday, journalists saw a convoy of presidential security cars and an ambulance leave a private Pretoria hospital and later arrive at 1 Military Hospital. However, it could not be immediately determined if the convoy had anything to do with Mandela’s care.
Speaking to The Associated Press on Friday afternoon, Maharaj again declined to identify which hospital Mandela was staying at, saying officials are “trying to protect his privacy.” When asked about the defense minister’s comments, Maharaj said the presidency had been consistent in avoiding identifying the hospital and declined to comment further.
Mandela “has been comfortable the past 24 hours and continues to receive care,” Maharaj said.
South Africa’s government has said Mandela, initially admitted for medical tests, was being treated for a lung infection. Mandela has a history of lung problems, after falling ill with tuberculosis in 1988 toward the tail-end of his 27 years in prison before his release and being elected president. While doctors said at the time the disease caused no permanent damage to his lungs, medical experts say tuberculosis can cause problems years later for those infected.
Mandela had an acute respiratory infection in January 2011 and following the chaos surrounding Mandela’s stay at a public hospital the South African military took charge of his care and the government took over control the information about his health.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at . www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP