Nelson Mandela, arguably one of the great leaders of the 20th century, served as president of South Africa, was a notable writer, accomplished lawyer and a civil rights activist. Mandela was born in Mveso, South Africa, on July 18, 1918. He spent his childhood in South Africa, then left to pursue an education in the United States before returning to his home country to assume the role of president in 1994.
Mandela showed a considerable amount of academic talent as a child. He studied politics and government, but was more interested in pursuing societal change through peaceful measures rather than with force. Mandela became very involved in the South African anti-apartheid movement while in his 20s. Encouraged by his personal commitment to achieve positive societal change in South Africa, Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1942. For the next 20 years, he helped the African National Congress carry out a peaceful but powerful movement against the all-white government of South Africa, which governed the nation with racist rules and policies. Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, and became the first black president of South Africa in 1994. In 2009, Mandela’s birth date, July 18, was designated as Mandela Day, and recognized internationally as a day to raise awareness of global peace.