Dec. 5 - Revered by millions as a beacon of hope against oppression and as an archetype of reconciliation, Nelson Mandela is survived by his wife, Graça Machel, six children, 17 grandchildren ... and he leaves behind a grieving nation. Tara Cleary reports.
The day Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela's life began anew … his release from Victor Verster prison at the age of 71. After 27 years behind bars, his homecoming celebration was the biggest political rally South Africans had ever seen. SOUNDBITE: Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, saying (English): "Your struggle, your commitment and your discipline have released me to stand before you today." Mandela's lifelong quest was to gain freedom for the country's black majority. Born to a Xhosa chief, Madiba - the clan name by which he was affectionately known - studied law, working part-time to support himself. When South Africa's Afrikaner regime introduced apartheid, he joined forces with the then-militant African National Congress, or ANC. But he remained committed to non-violence. Then on March 21st, 1960, a breakaway organization, the Pan Africanist Congress, organized a peaceful protest against the despised pass book laws. It took place in a township south of Johannesburg called Sharpeville. Sixty-nine protesters were killed that day. Mandela turned to violent resistance and formed the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe. In 1963, in a move to quash the armed struggle, the government charged Mandela and several others in the Rivonia treason trial. Sentenced to life with hard labor, the leader entered the darkest chapter of his life. Locked away in an island prison, with his image banned from local media, Mandela's then wife Winnie and fellow ANC comrades rallied support inside and outside South Africa. Less than three months after his release in 1990, Mandela led a now unbanned ANC delegation in the first face-to-face talks with National Party leader, then South African president, F.W. De Klerk. And in April 1994 an estimated 23 million South Africans cast their votes in the country's first ever free and fair elections. SOUNDBITE: Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, saying (English): "I have fought very firmly against white domination; I have fought very firmly against black domination. I cherish the idea of a new South Africa where all South Africans are equal." Throughout his presidency, appeasement and unity were key to Mandela and he earned a Nobel Peace Prize in return. The definitive statesman, he charmed the world... ...and was considered the conscience and moral authority of Africa. Even at the age of 90 he had advice for President Jacob Zuma's administration: SOUNDBITE: Nelson Mandela, saying (English): "Let no individual, section, faction or group ever regard itself as greater than the organization and the common good of all our people." In 2004 he retreated from public life to spend time with his third wife Graça Machel and his extended family. SOUNDBITE: Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, saying (English): "I'm now retiring from retirement, and this is for real. I hope you will allow me to rest." QUOTE FROM MANDELA'S INAUGURAL SPEECH: "We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free. Their dreams have become reality. Freedom is their reward."