Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, born 18 July 1918 in Transkei, South Africa, is a former President of South Africa, the first to be elected in a fully representative democratic election, who held office from 1994–99. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of the African National Congress's armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe. The South African courts convicted him on charges of sabotage, as well as other crimes committed while he led the movement against apartheid. In accordance with his conviction, Mandela served 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island. He is currently a celebrated elder statesman who continues to voice his opinion on topical issues. In South Africa he is often known as Madiba, an honorary title adopted by elders of Mandela's clan. The title has come to be synonymous with Nelson Mandela.
Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela supported reconciliation and negotiation, and helped lead the transition towards multi-racial democracy in South Africa. Since the end of apartheid, many have frequently praised Mandela, including former opponents. Mandela has received more than one hundred awards over four decades, most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.