Here are some details about Nelson Mandela’s life:
FATHER OF THE NATION
Nelson Mandela’s place as South Africa’s premier hero is so secure that the central bank released new bank notes in 2012 showing his face.
A $1.25 million project to digitally preserve a record of Mandela’s life went online last year at http://archive.nelsonmandela.org. The project by Google and Mandela’s archivists gives researchers — and anyone else — access to hundreds of documents, photographs and videos. In one 1995 note, written in lines of neat handwriting, Mandela muses on Valentine’s day to a young admirer. He said his rural upbringing by illiterate parents left him “colossally ignorant” about simple things like a holiday devoted to romance.
At his inauguration, Mandela stood hand on heart, saluted by white generals as he sang along to two anthems: the apartheid-era Afrikaans “Die Stem” (“The Voice”) and the African “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” (“Lord Bless Africa”).
A NEW LIFE
When Mandela went free after 27 years, he walked out of a prison on the South African mainland, and raised his right fist in triumph. In his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” he wrote: “I felt — even at the age of seventy-one — that my life was beginning anew.”
Mandela’s last public appearance was in 2010. Bundled against the cold, he smiled and waved to the crowd during the closing ceremony of the World Cup. He had kept a low profile during the monthlong tournament after the death of his great-grand daughter in a traffic accident following a World Cup concert.
Mandela was born the son of a tribal chief in Transkei, a Xhosa homeland. Many South Africans of all races call him by his clan name, Madiba, which means “reconciler.”
Mandela eventually turned to fighting AIDS, acknowledging in 2005 that his son, Makgatho, had died of the disease. The nation, which has the most people living with HIV in the world at 5.6 million, still faces stigma and high rates of infection.
Mandela was confined to the harsh Robben Island prison off Cape Town for most of his time behind bars. He and others quarried limestone there, working seven hours a day nearly every day for 12 years, until forced labor was abolished on the island. In secret, Mandela — inmate No. 46664 — wrote at night in his cell. It was forbidden to quote him or publish his photo, but go-betweens ferried messages to leaders in exile.