Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (born July 18, 1918)

One of the world’s most revered statesmen, Nelson Mandela led the struggle to replace South Africa’s apartheid regime with a non-racial democracy.  His anti-apartheid activities initially led to his sentencing in 1962 to five years in prison; in 1964, he was subsequently jailed for life based on his involvement in underground, armed resistance activities.  He served 27 years in prison before his release in 1990 at the age of 72.  His service represents a lifetime of leadership excellence.

  • Nelson Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Chief Henry Mandela of the Tembu Tribe.  Mandela was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand, qualifying in law in 1942. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party’s apartheid policies.
  • During his years in prison, Nelson Mandela’s reputation steadily grew.  He was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in South Africa and became a potent symbol of resistance, as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength.   He consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom.
  • Following his release from prison on the 11th of February 1990, his policies of reconciliation and negotiation helped lead the transition to multi-racial democracy in South Africa.   Since the end of apartheid, he has been widely praised, even by former opponents.
  • Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected State President of South Africa on May 10, 1994.
  • Since stepping down in 1999, he has become South Africa’s highest profile ambassador and has campaigned tirelessly in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  He was also active in peace negotiations in African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

Fondly known in South Africa by his clan name ‘Madiba’,  Nelson Mandela has received more than 250 awards over four decades across the world, most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.  Mandela has frequently credited Mahatma Gandhi for being a major source of inspiration in his life; both for the philosophy of non-violence and for facing adversity with dignity.

Mr. Nelson Mandela is a Trailblazer, who personifies the spirit of opportunity, equality, character and excellence exemplified by the Le Flambeau Foundation.   Mr. Mandela laid the groundwork and paved the way to a brighter future for many of us.  We have a responsibility to educate, elevate and  carry it forward –together!