Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (also known as Madiba), a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative, multiracial election. Mandela was born to the Thembu royal family. He attended Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand where he studied law. After the Afrikaner nationalists of the National Party came to power in 1948 and began implementing the policy of apartheid, a system of racial segragation, he rose to prominence in the the African National Congress's 1952 Defiance Campaign. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and, with the ANC leadership, was prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961 but was found not guilty. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, he was arrested in 1962, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.
An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 after 27 years of imprisonment. Becoming ANC President, Mandela led negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multi-racial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory. He was elected President and formed a Government of National Unity. As President, he established a new constitution and initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses, while introducing policies to encourage land reform, combat poverty and expand healthcare services.