Nelson Mandela helped overthrow apartheid and become the
Nelson Mandela helped overthrow apartheid and become the "Father of the Nation".

DAY IN HISTORY: Mandela fights to last breath for equality

THE world lost one its leading lights in the fight for racial equality when Nelson Mandela - the "father" of South Africa - lost his battle with illness and died on this day in 2013. He was 95.

Mandela was born to the Thembu royal family, was university educated and worked as a lawyer in Johannesburg.

However, the pull of politics was too strong and he joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1943.

But when the ruling National Government established apartheid, racial segregation that privileged white South Africans, Mandela and the ANC quickly found a purpose.

Hoping to eradicate the system, Mandela took the fight to the streets, repeatedly arrested for his actions.

But when he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe group in 1961 and led a sabotage campaign against the government, Mandela was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mandela served 27 years in prison but as the years passed, growing domestic unrest and international pressure started to swing the tide in his favour.

Fearing a civil war, President F. W. de Klerk released Mandela to much jubilation in 1990.

But his fight wasn't over.

Mandela and de Klerk organised multiracial voting for the presidential election of 1994, which signalled the end of apartheid and led Mandela and the ANC to victory.

Mandela's time in power was highlighted by a time of reconciliation and bringing justice to the people of South Africa.

He refused a second term and in 1999, handed the reins of power to his deputy Thabo Mbeki.

Mandela's later years were marked by his fight to rid poverty and disease through his charity, the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was loving labelled by South Africans as the "Father of the Nation".

However, as his life lengthened, his health began to deteriorate and after a long battle with respiratory infection, Mandela died on December 5, 2013.

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