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FFormer South African president, Rolihlahla Mandela, was born on 18 July 1918 in a small village in Transkei called Mvezo. Later he was sent to school in the neighbouring village of Qunu where a teacher gave him the name "Nelson".
Madiba, as he was affectionately known, has been called a freedom fighter, a great man, Tata (father of the nation), and a global icon among countless other names. He was known as an activist, served time as a political prisoner, became South Africa's first democratically elected president, an international peacemaker, statesman, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
His incarceration on Robben Island only solidified his role as a leader within the African National Congress (ANC). His arrest was the start of what was to become a 27-year incarceration during which he would become the most famous political prisoner in the world and emerge as the future president of South Africa.
IInitially he was sentenced to five years for leaving the country illegally and incitement, but then came the Rivonia Treason Trial during which he was sentenced to life.
Nelson Mandela Burial Site
Mandela's statement in court at the end of the trial is a classic in the history of the resistance to apartheid, and has been an inspiration to all who have opposed it. He ended with these words: "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
For the first time since his funeral, Mandela’s grave will be open to the public to journey to and pay their respects. The unveiling will be aligned with the global icon’s centenary celebrations of his birth this July. The gravesite was previously reserved for family and close friends.
Mandela is a universal symbol of freedom and reconciliation, an icon representing the triumph of the human spirit. During his lifetime, he not only dedicated himself to the struggle of the African people, but with his humility and his spirit of forgiveness, he captured hearts and inspired people all over the world.