Former South African President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela died at 95. The political icon was battling a recurring lung infection, and had a history of lung problems dating back to when he contracted tuberculosis as a political prisoner. He had been in frail health for several years.
South African President Jacob Zuma announced:
“He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”
His birthday, July 18th, will be recognized around the world as Nelson Mandela Day.
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The anti-apartheid leader was a beloved figure around the world, and a symbol of reconciliation from a country with a brutal history of racism. Mandela became South Africa’s first black president after the first all-race elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid.
In 1962, he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges, and sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment. Mandela served 27 years in prison from 1964 to 1982, spending many of those years at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town. Mandela served 27 years in prison from 1964 to 1982, spending many of those years at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town. It is this imprisonment that has been linked to the multiple health problems he’d suffered over the years.
In 1994, in a historic election, Mandela became the nation’s first black leader. He stepped down in 1999 after a single term and retired from political and public life.