Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, (born 18 July 1918) is a former President of South Africa, was one of its chief anti-apartheid activists, and was also an anti-apartheid saboteur and guerrilla leader. He is now almost universally considered to be a heroic freedom fighter. He spent his childhood in the Thembu chiefdom before embarking on a career in law.
As president, (May 1994 - June 1999), Mandela presided over the transition from minority rule and apartheid, winning international respect for his advocacy of national and international reconciliation.
After his retirement as President in 1999, Mandela went on to become an advocate for a variety of social and human rights organizations. He received many foreign honours.