Who was Nelson Mandela?

Nelson Mandela smiling and waving in front of a microphone.

This is Nelson Mandela.

He spent 27 years in prison and went on to become the first black President of South Africa.

Find out more about him, below.

Photograph of Nelson Mandela smiling.

Key facts

  • In South Africa white people had more rights than black people. Mandela believed that everybody should be treated the same.
  • He fought for change, but he was put into prison for 27 years.
  • When he left prison, Nelson Mandela wasn’t angry. He wanted peace. In 1994, aged 77, Nelson Mandela became the first black President of South Africa.

Do you remember what happened in Nelson Mandela's life? Try the activity below.

Did you know?

  • When he was born, Nelson Mandela was called Rolihlahla. His name means ‘to pull a branch off a tree’.
  • His teacher gave him the nickname "Nelson" on his first day at school.
  • He was in three different prisons for 27 years in total. The most famous one is Robben Island, where he spent 18 years.
Nelson Mandela looking out of his old prison cell window.

Where next?

Who was Dr. Martin Luther King?
Who was Rosa Parks?
Significant people