At age 75, Nelson Mandela triumphed over apartheid and defined the pivotal change in South Africa.


Nelson Mandela is the world-famous former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Not only was he the first legitimately elected president of his country, he was also its first black president, and he did it all at the age of 75.

Nelson’s career in social justice activism started when he began studying law in 1943, where he faced racism as the school’s only black student. After helping start the African National Congress Youth League in 1944, he quickly became an influential leader in the movement to free South Africa from its violent, oppressive government. Over the next 20 years, he fought for an end to apartheid’s racism, violence, injustice, and inequality through all types of activism.

Unfortunately for Nelson, his involvement in activism against these strife’s earned him a lifetime jail sentence in 1964. The next 26 years could have broken his resolve, but instead, his spirit burned brighter with each passing year. When he was finally released from prison in 1990, he used his fame and popularity to help negotiate an end to apartheid legislation, all at the age of 72.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

After helping end apartheid in South Africa, Nelson ran for president in the country’s first autonomous election in 1994, winning the contentious vote. The worldwide TV audience for his inauguration topped 1 billion people, and he received a slew of international awards for his life-long activism and achievements, including the Nobel Peace Prize. Nelson served as president until 1999, when he stepped away from politics at the age of 81.

Nelson Mandela is an inspired #BestWithAge story because of his determination to stick to his beliefs and values, even after decades in prison. He welcomed his life’s new adventure in his 70s, and the world is a forever changed because of his strength and dedication.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Denis Farrell

#BestWithAge A Blog Series About How the Human Spirit Shines Brightest with Time