Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
(Xhosa pronunciation: [xoˈliɬaɬa manˈdeːla]
;), born 18 July 1918,
served as President
of South Africa
from 1994 to 1999, the first South-African president to be elected in a fully representative
democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid
activist, and the leader of the African National Congress
's armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe
. The South African courts
convicted him on charges of sabotage, as well as other crimes committed while he led the movement against apartheid. In accordance with his conviction's sentence, Mandela served 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island
. Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela supported reconciliation and negotiation, and helped lead the transition towards multi-racial democracy in South Africa.
Since the end of apartheid, many have frequently praised Mandela, including former opponents. In South Africa he is often known as Madiba
, an honorary title
adopted by elders of Mandela's clan. The title has come to be synonymous with Nelson Mandela.