Prodigal Son Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in the village of Mviza in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. His father was a counselor to a local king. He chose for his son the name Rolihlahla, which translated from Xhosa means literally “pulling a branch off a tree” — or, more colloquially, “troublemaker.” A schoolteacher would confer upon him the name Nelson.
Nelson Mandela, the revolutionary-turned-prisoner-turned-president who led South Africa out of apartheid and into an era of political and racial reconciliation, passed away on Dec. 5, 2013. He was 95. As both the father of his nation and its conscience, Mandela’s remarkable life changed history and its legacy resonates around the world.