The Life of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was an activist and lawyer who became the country's first black president and one of the most respected statesmen in the world after being jailed for 27 years. He passed away on Dec. 5, 2013.

Nelson Mandela was an activist and lawyer who became the country's first black president and one of the most respected statesmen in the world after being jailed for 27 years. He passed away on Dec. 5, 2013.

Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, credited with ending apartheid there, died Thursday, Dec, 5, 2013. He was 95 years old.

Nelson Mandela

Rolihlahla Mandela was born in a small village in 1918 into the Madiba clan of the Xhosa-speaking Thembu people. He is pictured here around 1950. Photo: Photo by Apic/Getty Images

Lawyer and Activist

Mandela became a lawyer and helped open the first black law firm in South Africa, in Johannesburg in 1952 to provide free or affordable representation to blacks and challenge apartheid. He is pictured here in 1961. Photo: STF/AFP/Getty Images

Wedding day

Mandela and his second wife Winnie, on their wedding day in 1957. Winnie later became a controversial figure in the ANC during Mandela's imprisonment. Photo: OFF/AFP/Getty Images

Accused of treason

Mandela became a well known anti-apartheid activist and leader in the African National Congress. He and nine other men were accused of conspiracy, sabotage and treason in 1964 for activities related to the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), a branch of the ANC focused on armed struggle against the white minority government. In this photo, the defendants raise their fists in defiance through the windows of the prison car. Photo: OFF/AFP/Getty Images

Sentenced to life

On June 12, 1964, Mandela and seven other defendants were convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life in prison. During the trial, Mandela had prepared for the possibility of the death sentence and made this famous declaration: "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die." Photo: OFF/AFP/Getty Images

18 years

Mandela would remain in prison for a total of 27 years, 18 of which were spent in this cell on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town. He was forced to do hard labor in the quarry on the island with other prisoners. Photo: Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images


Mandela was released from prison at the age of 71 on Feb. 11, 1990. By the time he was freed, then-President Frederik Willem de Klerk was beginning to dismantle the apartheid system. "Today the majority of South Africans, black and white, recognize that apartheid has no future," Mandela said in a speech upon his release. "Our march to freedom is irreversible." Photo: ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images

Soweto welcomes Mandela home

Crowds of supporters across South Africa danced in the streets on news of Mandela's release and some clashed with police officers. A mass rally was held in the Johannesburg township Soweto on Feb. 12, 1990, (pictured here) to welcome the leader home. Photo: PHILIP LITTLETON/AFP/Getty Images

International statesman

Months after his release, Mandela visited heads of state in countries in Europe and North America. Former U.S. President Bush had promised to invite both South African President DeKlerk and Mandela to Washington if Mandela was freed, in an effort to boost the process of government negotiations. He followed through and met with Mandela in June that year. Photo: KEVIN LARKIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Family ties

Mandela had four children with his first wife and two daughters with Winnie, including Zindzi, seen here on her wedding day in 1992. He lost three of his children with first wife Evelyn Ntoko Mase -- a baby girl in 1947, their eldest son to a car crash while Mandela was in prison, and their second son died in 2005 of AIDS-related illness. Photo: WALTER DHLADHLA/AFP/Getty Images

Nobel Prize winners

In 1993, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa." The next year, South Africa held its first democratic election. Photo: GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

Campaigning for president

Young ANC supporters wait for Nelson Mandela atop a billboard in a township outside Durban in April 1994. The country's first democratic election was held April 27, 1994, formally ending the apartheid era. That day, Mandela also voted for the first time in his life.

Photo: ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa's president

The ANC was victorious and Mandela was inaugurated May 10, 1994. “We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free," Mandela said in his inauguration speech. "Their dreams have become reality. Freedom is their reward." Photo: WALTER DHLADHLA/AFP/Getty Images

World Cup 2010

After stepping down as president after one term in 1999, Mandela continued to be a face of South Africa's new democracy to the world, including campaigning for the country to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. South Africa won the bid in 2004, and last year became the first African country to host the tournament. In this photo, Mandela waves next to his third wife Graca Machel during the final match between Netherlands and Spain at on July 11, 2010. Photo: Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

A country's love

Mandela, or Madiba as he is affectionately called by fellow South Africans, remains an unparalleled symbol of the struggle against apartheid, and of strength, wisdom and grace in leadership. "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others," he wrote in the final paragraphs of his autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom". Photo: ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images