Mandela was born into the Thembu sub-tribe nobility of the Xhosa people in Mveso, South Africa, initially raised by his parents there and in Qunu. He was early marked for great things, and was the first in his family to attend school. Soon after his father died, when young Nelson was nine, he was taken to the larger village of Mqhekewenzi, the Thembu provincial capital, where he became the ward of the chief-regent, Jongintaba, for the next 10 years, although he continued to see his mother on visits.
He attended university, became a lawyer and African National Congress activist, went into exile, but was eventually arrested and imprisoned for 27 years, mostly on Robben Island. He was released in 1990 and then elected to be the first president of the new South Africa, retiring in 1999.
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