Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first black president, was regarded as one of the great figures of the past century for his generosity of spirit, sacrifices in the name of equality and his efforts to reconcile the races in South Africa amid the ever-present specter of conflict.
his life in an effort to end white racist rule.
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people,” Mandela said. “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.”
Two months later, he and seven other defendants were sentenced to life in prison.