Nelson Mandela: His Life in Pictures

With his passing on Dec. 5, PEOPLE looks back at the amazing life of South Africa's legendary leader

  • BOY LEADER photo | Nelson Mandela

Credit: I.D.A.F./SIPA

Updated: Thursday Jul 18, 2013 | 12:00 PM EDT By: Kate Hogan & Katie Kauss


Born Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela on July 18, 1918 (he was nicknamed "Nelson" by a teacher), Mandela works in his parents' rural village of Qunu, South Africa, tilling fields and herding cattle with elders from the local Tembu tribe. After his father dies in 1930, the then-12-year-old is chosen as a future leader of the tribe because of his intelligence – life, however, has other plans.