By Jonathan Davies

Nelson Mandela has passed away at the age of 95.

Last night, in a statement on South African TV, President Jacob Zuma said Mr Mandela had "departed" and was at peace. Mandela had been receiving medical care at home following a three month spell in hospital with a lung infection.

President Zuma also said Mr Mandela would receive a full state funeral with flags to be flown at half-mast.

Tributes have been pouring in for one of the world’s most revered global public figures. UK Prime Minister, David Cameron said: "A great light has gone in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time".

Mr Mandela will mainly be remembered for ending the Apartheid regime in South Africa and replacing it with a multi-racial democracy. But he will also be remembered for his charisma, lack of bitterness over his treatment, self-depreciating sense of humour and an incredible life story.

An Incredible Life

He was born Rolihlahla Dalibhunga in Eastern Cape in 1918 but was given the English name, ‘Nelson’ by a school teacher. His father died when he was nine and Mandela was placed in the care of the chief of the Thembu people. In 1941, he ran away to Johannesburg to escape an arranged marriage. He enrolled in a law degree at a predominantly white university two years later. There his love of politics was sparked after being exposed to racial hatred and discrimination.

In 1943, he also joined the African National Congress (ANC) and later founded a youth version — the ANC Youth League. A year later he and Evelyn Mase married with whom he had four children before their divorce in 1858.

After having founded the first black law firm in 1952, he and his partner, Oliver Tambo campaigned against the Apartheid regime. Four years later Mandela was charged with high treason but they were dropped after a four year long trial. In 1958 he married again — this time to Winnie Madikizela. By 1960, the ANC were made outlaws and Mandela was forced to go into hiding. Tension intensified between campaigners and the Apartheid regime — police shot dead 69 black men in the Sharpeville Massacre.

Mandela’s protests had been peaceful. But he eventually launched a campaign to destabilise and sabotage the South African economy. He was again arrested and charged for trying to violently overthrow the government and sabotage. In 1964 he was sentenced to life in prison — saying in court that he was willing to die for his ideal of democracy, freedom and equality. Mandela contracted tuberculosis while in prison.

In 1980, Oliver Tambo launched a worldwide campaign against the Apartheid but focused on one thing — the release of Nelson Mandela. 72,000 people at Wembley stadium and millions more watching on TV sang “Free Nelson Mandela” and mounted huge pressure on the Apartheid regime. Two years later, the ban on the ANC was lifted, Mandela was released from prison and talks on a multi-racial democracy began.

He divorced his wife, Winnie, in 1992 due to her adultery and charges of kidnapping and accessory to assault. But a year later, Mandela and the President who released him, FW de Klerk, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Mandela was then elected South Africa’s first black President in a landslide victory in which all races voted for the first time.

In 1998 on his 80th birthday, Mandela married his third wife, Grace Machel. In 1999 he stepped down from office but continued to work with his charity, the Mandela Foundation. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001 and retired from public life three years later to concentrate on spending time with his family. But a year later, his son died of aids. Still a taboo in South Africa, Mandela raised the issue of aids and challenged people to talk about it like a normal illness in order to tackle it. In 2007 on his 89th birthday, he formed the Elders Group consisting of some of the world’s leaders to fight some of the world’s toughest problems.

Mr Mandela played an important role in South Africa hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2010, the first African country to host the tournament. He missed the opening ceremony after the death of his great-granddaughter but appeared at the closing ceremony.

In November 2012 Mandela’s face was printed on South African bank notes for the first time.

Mandela spent three months in hospital earlier in 2013, but was discharged after making a recovery.

Last night, 5th December 2013, South African President Jacob Zuma announced the passing of Nelson Mandela at the age of 95.

Key Dates

1918 — Born in Eastern Cape, South Africa.
1943 — Joins African National Congress (ANC) and co founds ANC Youth League.
1944 — Marries Evelyn Mase.
1952 — Opens the first black law firm with Oliver Tambo.
1956 — Charged with high treason but dropped after four year trial.
1958 — Marries Winnie Madikizela.
1960 — ANC is outlawed and Mandela goes into hiding, launches economic sabotage campaign.
1962 — Arrested on charges of sabotage and trying to violently overthrow government.
1964 — Sentenced to life in prison where he contracts tuberculosis.
1990 — Released from prison
1992 — Separates from Winnie after adultery, kidnapping and accessory to assault.
1993 — Awarded Nobel Peace Prize.
1994 — Elected first black President of South Africa in first all race vote.
1998 — Marries Grace Machel on his 80th birthday.
1999 — Steps down from office.
2001 — Diagnosed with prostate cancer.
2004 — Retires from public life to concentrate on family.
2005 — Campaigns against HIV/aids after his son dies of aids.
2007 — Forms the Elders Group on his 89th birthday.
2010 — South Africa host the FIFA World Cup and Mandela appears at the closing ceremony.

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