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Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election.
Before his presidency, Mandela was a militant anti-apartheid activist, and the leader and co-founder of "Umkhonto we Sizwe", the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC).
He spent 27 years in prison after being arrested in 1962.
Following his release from prison in 1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that led to democracy in 1994.
As president, he frequently gave priority to reconciliation, while introducing policies aimed at combating poverty and inequality in South Africa.
Mandela has received more than 250 awards including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."