Nelson Mandela Dead at 95

Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid fighter and former President of South Africa, has passed away at the age of 95

Mr. Mandela was born in the village of Mvezo, Cape Province in the then Union of South Africa.  He was the son of Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa and Nosekeni Fanny.  He was the descendant of Ngubengcuka, the King of the Thembu people.

Mr. Mandela was a qualified lawyer and practiced law for a number of years early in his career.

In March 1950, Mr. Mandela was elected to the Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC.) Six years later, along with a majority of the Executive of the ANC was arrested, accused of high treason.  He would be found guilty of this crime, however this was only the beginning.

He would be arrested again in 1962 and charged with inciting strikes and ” leaving the country without permission.”  He was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison.

The following year Mr. Mandela was charged with sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the Government.  He would be found guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.

Mr. Mandela subsequently served more than 2o years behind bars, mainly at the Robben Island Prison.  Mr. Mandela would undertake hunger strikes from time to time in attempts to make people aware of the conditions of the prison.

Mr. Mandela was offered his freedom in 1985 if he would promise to ‘”unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon.”  This offer was dismissed.  A concert would be organized at Wembley Stadium in London for his 70th birthday in 1988.  This helped to raise awareness for his situation.

Mr. Mandela would be released in 1990 after the Government agreed to recognize the ANC.  He would go on to help South Africa end apartheid, and eventually was elected President of South Africa in 1994 in the first truly democratic election in South Africa.

Mr. Mandela would serve as President until 1999.  He would create a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by Bishop Desmund Tutu to help bring an end to the years of apartheid.

Mr. Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.  In Canada, he was appointed to the Order of Canada and made an honorary Canadian citizen, the first living person to actually receive the award.  He was also made a Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St. John and received an Order of Merit award from Queen Elizabeth II.

Mr. Mandela passed away December 5th 2013 after suffering from ill health over the past few years.

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