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Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa in 1994 He is the countrys first black president He was elected by the countrys National Assembly The Assembly had been chosen in South Africas first elections in which the countrys blacks were allowed to vote Blacks won a majority of the Assembly seats and the Assembly selected Mandela as president These developments marked the beginning of a new era in South Africa They resulted in blacks gaining control of the government after a long period of domination by the white minoritySince 1991 Mandela had served as president of the African National Congress ANC a largely black group that opposed the South African governments policy of rigid racial segregation called apartheid He had long been a leader of protests against apartheid and was imprisoned in 1962 on charges of conspiring to over throw the white-minority government While in prison he became a symbol of the struggle for racial justice After being freed in 1990 he led negotiations with white leaders that eventually brought an end to apartheid and established a nonracial system of governmentMandela and then-President F W de Klerk of South Africa won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize They were honored for their work to end apartheid and to enable the countrys nonwhites to fully participate in South African governmentNelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Umtata in the Transkei territory of South Africa His father was a chief of the Xhosa-speaking Tembu tribe Mandela gave up his right to succeed his father and instead prepared for a correspondence a legal career He attended the University College of Fort Hare studied law by correspondence at Witwatersrand University and received a law degree from the University of South Africa in 1942 That year in Soweto he and a friend opened the first black law partnership in South AfricaIn 1944 Mandela joined the ANC and helped form the organizations Youth League In 1948 the South African government established its policy
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