Mandela, Nelson Rolihlahla khōl-ēhlä´hlä mändā´lä [key], 1918–2013, South African statesman. He earned a degree (B.A., 1943) after being expelled from the University College of Fort Hare (for taking part in a student protest) and finishing his studies with the Univ. of South Africa, studied (1943–48) law at the Univ. of the Witwatersrand (but did not earn his LL.B. until 1989, from the Univ. of South Africa), and was prominent in Johannesburg"s youth wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1952 he became ANC deputy national president, advocating nonviolent resistance to apartheid . After a group of peaceful demonstrators were massacred (1960) in Sharpeville, however, Mandela organized a paramilitary branch of the ANC to carry out guerrilla warfare against the white government. After being acquitted (1961) on charges of treason after a six-year trial, he was arrested (1962) and convicted first (1962) of inciting strikes and illegal travel and later (1964) of sabotage and conspiring to overthrow the government. At the latter trial he was sentenced to life in prison, where he subsequently became the leading symbol of South Africa"s oppressed black majority but also began (late 1980s) secret negotiations with the government.
Released in 1990 as an expression of President de Klerk "s commitment to change, Mandela was elected (July, 1991) ANC president after a triumphal global tour. He represented the ANC in the turbulent negotiations that led to establishment of majority rule. Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. After South Africa"s first multiracial elections (1994), in which the ANC won a majority, Mandela was elected president.
Mandela"s presidency was marked by his efforts to reconcile many of the various opposing sides in the long antiapartheid struggle (which were sometimes criticized by more militant blacks) and his work to establish a multiracial democracy based on the rule of law. A new constitution was adopted (1996), and moderate progress made in