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Nelson Mandela Biography

Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, Transkei, on 18 July 1918. His mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni and his father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. In 1930, when he was 12 years old, his father died and the young Rolihlahla became a ward of Jongintaba at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni.*

Hearing the elders’ stories of his ancestors’ valour during the wars of resistance, he dreamed also of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people.

He attended primary school in Qunu where his teacher Miss Mdingane gave him the name Nelson, in accordance with the custom to
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In 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, he obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa. He graduated in absentia at a ceremony in Cape Town.

Nelson Mandela, while increasingly politically involved from 1942, only joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped to form the ANC Youth League.

In 1944 he married Walter Sisulu’s cousin Evelyn Mase, a nurse. They had two sons, Madiba Thembekile "Thembi" and Makgatho and two daughters both called Makaziwe, the first of whom died in infancy. He and his wife divorced in 1958.

Nelson Mandela rose through the ranks of the ANCYL and through its efforts, the ANC adopted a more radical mass-based policy, the Programme of Action in 1949.

In 1952 he was chosen at the National Volunteer-in-Chief of the Defiance Campaign with Maulvi Cachalia as his deputy. This campaign of civil disobedience against six unjust laws was a joint programme between the ANC and the South African Indian Congress. He and 19 others were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for their part in the campaign and sentenced to nine months hard labour, suspended for two years.

A two-year diploma in law on top of his BA allowed Nelson Mandela to practice law, and in August 1952 he and Oliver Tambo established South Africa’s first black law firm, Mandela and Tambo.

At the end of 1952 he was banned for the first time. As a restricted person he was only permitted to watch in secret as

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