South Africa's first black President, Nelson Mandela, has died aged 95
Mr Mandela, 95, led South Africa's transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison.
He had been receiving intense home-based medical care for a lung infection after three months in hospital.
In a statement on South African national TV, South African Presiden Jacob Zuma said Mr Mandela had "departed" and was at peace.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was one of the world's most revered statesmen after preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years. After being jailed for life in 1964, Mandela (often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata, meaning "Father") became a worldwide symbol of resistance to apartheid.
He was born in the rural Transkei on 18 July 1918 into an African royal family largely dispossessed by colonising; his grandfather had been a king and his father was a chief. He was named Rolihlahla, or "troublemaker".¯ After attending Methodist boarding schools (where he was rechristened "Nelson") he went to the only black university in South Africa, Fort Hare. He began to rebel against authority and was expelled.
After experiencing racism at the University of Witwatersrand, he joined the African National Congress in 1944 and helped establish its youth league. Together with a group of young, intelligent and highly motivated colleagues, including Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo, he set about transforming the ANC into a mass political movement.
In the early 1950s he toured South Africa, organising campaigns of mass civil disobedience. In 1955, Mandela played a key role in writing the ANC's Freedom Charter, which stated that South Africa belonged "to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people".
The following year, he was among 156 political activists, including much of the ANC's leadership, to be arrested and charged with treason. After a trial that lasted four-and-a-half-years, all the accused were eventually acquitted in 1961.
A key point for Mr Mandela came two years later, when 69 people were shot dead in a protest against the Pass Laws. Hundreds of political activists, including Mr Mandela, were arrested and detained without trial while the government declared a state of emergency and banned the ANC. The ANC began to advocate violence and Mandela was made commander of its newly formed military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe. The group's policy was to attack property - under his auspices, the ANC carried out a sabotage campaign, blowing up government pass offices, electricity pylons and attacking police stations.
Mandela travelled outside the country looking for support, but was arrested in South Africa in 1962 and was jailed for five years. Two years later, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for organising sabotage at what became known as the Rivonia trial. He was sent to Robben Island jail.
The rise of the militant Black Consciousness Movement during the 1970s and the death in custody of one of the movement's founders, student activist Steve Biko, rekindled interest in Mr Mandela and the ANC. an active worldwide anti-apartheid movement was growing, focusing on the express aim of freeing Nelson Mandela and his fellow prisoners.
Sanctions, demonstrations and music concerts - including one held on Mr Mandela's 70th birthday in 1988 - were just a few of the many ways that his plight was kept in the public eye.
South Africa became more isolated, businesses and banks refused to do business with it and the clamour for change increased. In 1990, the South African government, which had already begun to reverse apartheid legislation under the leadership of anti-apartheid President FW de Klerk, finally agreed to open negotiations, and Nelson Mandela was released.
Prison had taken away the prime of his life. It had taken away his family life. Relations with some of his children were strained. His marriage to Winnie Mandela would end in divorce.
He was jointly-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with FW de Klerk in 1993 and was elected South Africa's first black president in 1994, two years after white South Africans voted in a referendum to end the Apartheid system. He stepped down after five years in office, time which he used to promote peace and reconciliation between black and white South Africans and campaign for racial, ethnic and sexual equality in Africa.
"Our nation has lost its greatest son," President Zuma said. "What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves."
"Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell."
Mr Mandela's body will be moved to a mortuary in Pretoria, and the funeral is likely to take place next Saturday.
"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate they can learn to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite"
- Nelson Mandela.
edited 5th Dec '13 6:20:05 PM by TheBatPencil