President Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, died today at the age of 95. Mandela, South Africa‘s first black president, elected after the end of apartheid in 1994, was a Nobel Prize winner and a global symbol of progress and reconciliation.
Mandela was jailed for 27 years for anti-apartheid political activity. Released in 1990, he played a leading role in steering the divided country from apartheid to a fully-representative democracy.
Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in the village of Mviza in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. His father was a counselor to a local king. He chose for his son the name Rolihlahla, which translated from Xhosa means literally “pulling a branch off a tree” — or, more colloquially, “troublemaker.” A schoolteacher would confer upon him the name Nelson.