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Nelson Mandela, leader of South Africa helped bring about social change and the end of apartheid

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 2008. (Courtesy of South Africa The Good News)

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 2008. (Courtesy of South Africa The Good News)

Nelson Mandela, the leader of South Africa who was imprisoned for 27 years for his efforts to bring about social change, died on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95. He spent much of his life challenging the idea that the white minority should rule South Africa, and he is one of the people responsible for causing the end of apartheid in that nation. But while many remember him as a hero and as the social conscience of his nation, his life was not without controversy. He was a complex man, and his strengths—and weaknesses—as a leader, would make a good research paper topic in political science or international relations classes.

Mandela’s early years

Born in 1918, Mandela was a founder of the African National Congress (ANC), a socialist group dedicated to democracy and the end of apartheid, the system under which the white South African minority legally ruled over and oppressed black South Africans. Read more