The first black president of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela (1918-) began his political activities within the African National Congress (ANC) at an early age. Although he at first advocated nonviolent resistance to the apartheid system of racial segregation, he organized guerilla groups against the white-only government after a massacre of demonstrators in 1960; he was arrested in 1964 and remained imprisoned until 1990.
Widely regarded, he was elected president of South Africa in 1994 and worked for racial reconciliation. Under his leadership the ANC left its earlier socialist sympathies and became the pragmatic governing party. Mandela shaerd the 1993 Nobel Peace Price with his predecessor, F.W. de Klerk.