Mandela fought long and hard against apartheid in South Africa, and spent 27 years in prison, before he was voted the country's first black president. Young activist Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa, in 1918, and was later given the name Nelson by his teacher. After he qualified as a lawyer he became involved with a group trying to bring about political change in South Africa, called the African National Congress (ANC).
In 1948, the white South African government brought in "apartheid" laws that meant that white and black people had to stay Separate. Mandela became deputy leader of the ANC, and they started peaceful protests. But, after police killed 69 protestors, the ANC became more violent. The government banned the ANC and Mandela was arrested for plotting against the government. In 1964, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
During his total of 27 years in prison, Mandela became a symbol of resistance to apartheid around the world. In 1990, he was released, and the ban against the ANC was lifted. In 1991, Mandela became the ANC’s leader. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, and the following year South Africa held its first multiracial election. Mandela was elected the first black president.
Mandela fought for freedom for black South Africans and kept the peace when apartheid ended, even though many people wanted revenge against white land-owners. In 2009, the UN announced that Mandela’s birthday, July 18, would be “Mandela Day.”
100 People Who Made History is no ordinary history book. Inventors and explorers rub shoulders with political leaders, sports stars, and entertainers. From Marco Polo to Marie Curie via Pele, this top 100 comes from all over the world, taking in all types of people. Take a seat and meet the people that have changed our world and discover how they did it.