Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Chief Henry Mandela of the Tembu Tribe. Mandela himself was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand and qualified 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 after 1948. He went on trial for treason in 1956-1961 and was acquitted in 1961. After the banning of the ANC in 1960, Nelson Mandela argued for the setting up of a military wing within the ANC. In June 1961, the ANC executive considered his proposal on the use of violent tactics and agreed that those members who wished to involve themselves in Mandela's campaign would not be stopped from doing so by the ANC. This led to the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years' imprisonment with hard labour. In 1963, when many fellow leaders of the ANC and the Umkhonto we Sizwe were arrested, Mandela was brought to stand trial with them for plotting to overthrow the government by violence. His statement from the dock received considerable international publicity. On June 12, 1964, eight of the accused, including Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment. From 1964 to 1982, he was incarcerated at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town; thereafter, he was at Pollsmoor Prison, nearby on the mainland.

African liberal Nelson Mandela's political path began in 1944 when he and 5 comrades formed the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League. Mandela was appointed league president and in 1952., elected national volunteer-in-chief of the ANC's Defiance Campaign, a mass civil disobedience campaign against discriminatory legislation. This was the start of his resistance against oppressive apartheid laws. The years that followed were marked with Mandela being arrested, banned and imprisoned, but also with significant contributions to the freedom struggle. Mandela emerged a leader, fighting forced removals and Bantu Education, and popularizing the Freedom Charter. In 1956, Mandela along with 155 other freedom fighters was arrested and charged with high treason. The so-called Treason Trial eventually collapsed, but not before the ANC was banned. The party continued its work underground, with Mandela at the helm. The ANC then established its armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) with Mandela as it's commander in chief. Shortly after, Mandela was charged with illegal exit from the country and incitement to strike, convicted and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. During this time, the MK headquarters were discovered and Mandela, along with 9 others, was charged with sabotage. This prompted the Rivonia Trial, during which Mandela famously declared he was prepared to die for his ideal of a democratic and free society.

This year on 18 July - Nelson Mandela s 93rd birthday - the UN is joining a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to devote 67 minutes of our time to helping others, as a way to mark Nelson Mandela International Day. For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa. Take action! Make your commitment to 67 minutes of service on Mandela Day. In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July Nelson Mandela International Day in recognition of the former South African President s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. General Assembly resolution recognizes Nelson Mandela s values and his dedication to the service of humanity, in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of poor and underdeveloped communities. It acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.

Mandela's Role in the Early Anti-Apartheid Movement Mandela's childhood in the Transkei had sheltered him from racial discrimination. In Johannesburg, however, in the 1930s, he began to look as himself as a black man in a white society. He was first introduced to the rights movement when he met Walter Sisulu, a member of the ANC (African National Congress) who involved Mandela with the committee in 1944. With Sisulu and other activists, Mandela formed the Youth League, a branch of the ANC with more radical approaches to fighting for rights than the ANC had ever used before. His, and all Africans lives were soon to be changed when the African Nationalists Party came to power in 1948 and Apartheid officially began. In 1951, Mandela was elected the president of the ANC and campaigned for the repeal of discriminatory laws. He led anti-apartheid organizations and movements such as the "Umkhonto weSizwe" ("the spear of the nation") and the Defiance Campaign that included nonviolent civil disobedience and underground fighting.

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