Mandela, Nelson (1918–)

The man who would eventually become the first president of a truly democratic South Africa was born in rural Transkei in 1918. Close to Xhosa royalty, he received a privileged education at a mission school and then at the South African Native College at Fort Hare. Although modest in size and facilities, Fort Hare had become an academic center for the nation's African population. It attracted the academic elite as well as many with radical political ideas.

In 1941, Nelson Mandela left Fort Hare for Johannesburg. He worked as a clerk in a progressive white law firm while pursing his legal education at the University of Witwatersrand. He gradually was drawn into increasing political activism within the contexts of the South African Communist Party and ...

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