Winnie and Nelson Mandela, 1962
Nelson Mandela died today at the age of 95. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (Xhosa pronunciation: [xoˈliːɬaɬa manˈdeːla]) (18 July 1918 − 5 December 2013) was 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 institutionalized racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Mandela had served 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid political views but an international campaign lobbied for his release, which was finally granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife.
Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Right-wing critics denounced him as a terrorist and communist sympathizer. He nevertheless gained international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, having received more than 250 honors, 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, Madiba, or as Tata (“Father”); he is often described as “the father of the nation”. Mandela died following a long illness on 5 December 2013 at his home in Johannesburg.