His born name was Rolihlahla Mandela and it was given to him by his father, Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela. While attending primary school his teacher renamed him Nelson in accordance with the custom of giving all schoolchildren “Christian” names. Mandela is also referred to as “Madiba.” “Tata (father),” “Khulu (grandfather),” and “Dalibhunga (creator or founder of the council).”
In addition to being a political activist, Nelson Mandela also had an interest in law, so he opened his own firm in 1952. However, Mandela decided to partner with Oliver Tambo and the two founded “Mandela and Tambo,” a South African law firm. It was the first attorney firm in the country to be led by black partners. The firm handled cases for clients looking to remedy the effects of the oppressive apartheid regime. Tambo managed much of the office paperwork while Mandela focused on advocating in the courts. The firm soon grew and the team was able to expand, but Mandela and Tambo closed down in 1960 due to Mandela facing charges of treason and Tambo fleeing the country.
Mandela was a leader of peaceful protest as well as armed resistance which often put him at odds with South Africa’s ruling majority. In 1964, Mandela was given a sentence of life imprisonment for his role in the anti-apartheid movement. While behind bars, Mandela’s wife (Winnie) helped to push his efforts forward. He was released from prison in 1990, and four years later he was elected the first black president of South Africa. With Mandela’s election, South Africa was under the instruction of a multiethnic government. He retired from politics in 1999, but continued to advocate for social justice globally.
Although many know Mandela for his staunch position against apartheid in South Africa, he was also an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness. After his son, Makgatho Lewanika Mandela, died from AIDS complications in 2005, he decided to make a public announcement to break the stigmas associated with the disease. He worked with different charities and organizations including his own, The Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and The Nelson Mandela Foundation, to benefit people with HIV through fundraising and providing access to treatments.
Mandela was jointly awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in activism and putting an end to apartheid. Nelson Mandela devoted his life to democracy and continued fighting for equality until his last days. Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg on December 5, 2013.