Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (Xhosapronunciation: [xoˈliːɬaɬa manˈdeːla]; 18 July 1918 − 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative, multiracial election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheidthrough tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalistand democratic socialist, he served as thePresident of the African National Congress(ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.
Mandela served 27 years in prison, first onRobben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prisonand Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Becoming ANC President, Mandela publishedhis autobiography and led negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory. He was elected President and formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to defuse ethnic tensions. As President, he promulgated a new constitution and initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Continuing the former government’s liberal economic policy, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho. He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela subsequently became an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty andHIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.