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This Day in History

World History

Sunday, February 11, 1990. :   Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid campaigner and the first democratically-elected President of South Africa, is freed after 27 years in jail.

     Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on July 18, 1918. Rolihlahla Mandela was seven years old when he became the first member of his family to attend school: it was there that he was given the English name "Nelson" by a Methodist teacher.

In his university days, Mandela became a political activist against the white minority government's denial of political, social, and economic rights to South Africa's black majority. He became a prominent anti-apartheid activist of the country, and was involved in underground resistance activities. Although interred in prison in South Africa from 1962 to 1990 for his resistance activities, including sabotage, Mandela continued to fight for the rights of the South African blacks. On 11 February 1990, Mandela gained his freedom, thanks to sustained campaigning by the African National Congress, and subsequent international pressure. He and State President F.W. de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Mandela was elected to the Presidency of South Africa in 1994 and retired in 1999.

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