Black and white photograph of Nelson Mandela's face with yellow and green text around the outer edges and a red line on the top and right on a black background
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Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) was a political activist, who fought against apartheid, a system of racial classification and segregation, in South Africa. He was arrested in 1963 for his involvement in challenging the policies of the government and spent nearly three decades in prison. Following his release from prison in 1990, Mandela participated in negotiations to end apartheid, a role which earned him and F. W. de Klerk the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. On May 10, 1994, Mandela was elected as president in South Africa’s first democratic election. He continued to be an advocate for human rights and social justice until his death in 2013.
The phrase “the struggle is my life” comes from a press statement issued by Mandela on June 26, 1961, to explain his decision to continue his political work underground. The statement reads in part: “For my own part I have made my choice. I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.”
In 1978, the International Defence and Aid Fund published a collection of Mandela’s speeches and writings, entitled Nelson Mandela: The Struggle is My Life, as a tribute to Mandela on his 60th birthday.
International Defence and Aid Fund. (1978). Nelson Mandela: The struggle is my life. Pathfinder: New York.