Nelson Mandela, the great anti-apartheid leader who inspired a nation, has died at the age of 95, following a long battle with illness, South African president Jacob Zuma has announced he died on Wednesday 5 December. “He is now resting. He is now at peace,” President Zuma said.
The former South Africa president, who served 27 years in jail for conspiring to overthrow the white-minority apartheid government, spent three months in a Pretoria hospital earlier this year battling a persistent lung infection. It was the fourth hospital stay since December 2012 for the Nobel peace prize laureate after he was discharged in April following treatment for pneumonia.
However, his last hospital stay was his longest since he was released from prison in 1990, after serving 27 years under the apartheid regime.
Born Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918, he was one of the world’s most revered statesmen and revolutionaries who led the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
A qualified lawyer from the University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand, Mandela served as the President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.
His political career started in 1944 when he joined the African National Congress (ANC) and participated in the resistance against the then government’s apartheid policy in 1948. On June 12, 1964, eight of the accused, including Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment.
His statement from the dock at the opening of the defence trial became extremely popular. He closed his statement with: “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.