Nelson Mandela's Life In Pictures

On December 5th, Nelson Mandela passed away. The anti-apartheid icon was in and out of the hospital throughout the year as he fought a recurring lung infection. As the world comes together to pray for his family, we're taking a look back at his amazing 95 years of life. Join us in remembering the former leader.

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ESSENCE honors beloved freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela.

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Born Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela on July 18, 1918 in the Eastern Cape region (a teacher would later give him the name Nelson) of South Africa, Mandela is most revered for leading a decades-long resistance struggle against White-minority rule in South Africa. Here he is pictured wearing traditional Xhosa garb as a young lawyer circa 1950.

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In 1952, Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo opened the first Black legal firm in South Africa providing free or low-cost legal counsel to Black South Africans.

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Mandela divorced his first wife Evelyn Ntoko Mase in 1957, the same year he met Nomzamo "Winnie" Madikizela. They married on June 14, 1958.

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Mandela and then-wife Winnie raise their fists to salute the cheering crowd after his release from Victor Verster prison on February 11, 1990. It was his first taste of freedom in 27 years.

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Nelson Mandela adresses a rally attended by more than 100,000 people at Soccer City Stadium in Soweto on February 13, 1990, two days after his release from prison.

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Nelson Mandela

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Nelson Mandela shakes hands with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on July 4, 1990 on the steps of No 10 Downing St., London.

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Mandela and his then-wife Winnie attended a ceremony in his honour at Trocadero Square on the Plaza of Freedom and Human Rights on June 6, 1990 in Paris, four months after his release from prison.

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Mandela leans forward to kiss his then-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at a rally held in Khayelitsh, Cape Town in March 1990.

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Mandela and his then-wife Winnie stroll on February 12, 1990 in the garden of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s residence in Cape Town, one day after Mandela's release from jail.

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Mandela and his then-wife Winnie Mandela play with their grandchild, Bambata, at their Soweto home in February 1990. They would separate two years later after Winnie was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault. Their divorce was finalized in 1993. "I part from my wife with no recriminations. I embrace her with all the love and affection I have nursed for her inside and outside of prison from the moment I first met her," said Mandela in a statement.

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Mandela embraces daughter Zinzi Mandela during her wedding to Zweli Hlongwane, a businessman, on October 26, 1992.

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Mandela with daughter Zinzi Mandela Hlongwane keep close during his birthday party.

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Danny Glover, Nelson Mandela and Harry Belafonte share a moment in 1993 shortly before Mandela became the first Black president of South Africa.

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Nelson Mandela toasts with colleagues at his office after winning the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with President Frederik Willem de Klerk in 1993. Mandela became the second ANC leader awarded with the prize after late Chief Albert Luthuli in 1960.

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Mandela jokingly poses with a spear, presented to him with traditional clothes at an election rally at Mngqesha, the former 'Great Place' of a famous Xosha king, on April 18, 1994.

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu introduces Nelson Mandela to the crowd at the City Hall, Cape Town, after he was elected President of South Africa on May 11, 1994.

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In 1995 Mandela visited his former cell in notorious Robben Island prison off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa where he'd spent 19 of his 27 years in prison.

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Nelson Mandela and Bill Cosby with his wife Camille Cosby in Nelson Mandela's old prison cell.

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Michael Jackson was among the many celebrities who visited Mandela in South Africa.

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Mandela embraces American international pop-star Stevie Wonder in Pretoria at the presidential residence. Mandela praised Wonder for his involvement in anti-apartheid activities when the African National Congress was still a banned organization in South Africa.

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Mandela talks with Pope John Paul II during a meeting at the Vatican in1998. Mandela thanked the Pope for the Catholic Church's help in education and health care of black South Africans when the white minority government wrote them off as second-class citizens.

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Mandela receives an 80th birthday kiss from his daughter Zinzi Mandela-Hlongwane and international supermodel Naomi Campbell, at the Skukuza Game Reserve in the North Province. In his address at a birthday lunch Mandela said 'Birthdays are a time to celebrate our lives and today I would like us to do just that.'

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Mandela shakes hand with Canadian Governor General Romeo LeBlanc after receiving his Officer of Order of Canada as Prime Minister Jean Chretien looks on in Ottawa, Canada. Manadela was the first foreign leader to receive Canada's highest award.

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President Bill Clinton and former South African President Nelson Mandela shake hands during their meeting in October 1999 in the Oval Office of the White House.

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Mandela meets Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in Windsor, England.

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Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, President Bill Clinton and Strom Thurmond present Nelson Mandela the Congressional Gold Medal.

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 Mandela wears a traditional mortar board while receiving two honourary doctorates at the Sydney University in 2000. Mandela received a Doctor of Law from both the University of Sydney and the University of Technology.

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Mandela married his current wife Graca Machel, the widow of the former president of Mozambique, on his 80th birthday. Here they attend celebrations for his 85th birthday.

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Mandela holds the Jules Rimet World Cup beside Capetown Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich after South Africa won the right to host the 2010 World Cup finals, the first to be played in Africa.

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Mandela smiles after receiving an honorary degree from Amherst College at St. Bartholomew Church May 12, 2005 in New York City.

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Nelson Mandela

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Mandela jokes with youngsters as they celebrate his 89th birthday at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Johannesburg on July 24, 2007.

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Mandela and wife Graca Machel pose ahead of a 46664 concert held in his honor at London's Hyde Park in 2008.