Former South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela died Thursday, according to South Africa President Jacob Zuma. He was 95.
Mandela was hospitalized on June 8 after his health deteriorated as the result of a recurring lung infection. Mandela had been in intensive care after three months in the hospital battling the infection.
"Our nation has lost its greatest son, yet what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human," Zuma said in a live address to the nation, according to Business Insider. "We saw in him what we seek in ourselves, and in him we saw so much of ourselves."
Born to the Thembu royal family in a village in South Africa's Cape Province, Mandela studied law at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and entered South African politics in the early 1950s. From his first forays into politics, Mandela sought to overthrow the government and its segregationist policy of apartheid. In 1962, Mandela was arrested for sabotage and conspiracy and sentenced to life in prison for his activism.
After serving 27 years of his sentence, Mandela was freed from prison in 1990 following an international campaign calling for his release. He chronicled his stint in prison in his 1994 autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.
In 1993, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-apartheid activism in South Africa. He then served as the first black president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. His administration sought to undo the racial tension and inequality that had been fostered by decades of apartheid.
Mandela decided against running for a second presidential term and instead chose to focus on his family and charity work. His organization, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, works to combat poverty and HIV-AIDS in Africa.
In addition to the Nobel Peace Prize, Mandela was also the recipient of more than 250 other awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Liberty Medal.
He is survived by his third wife, Graca Machel; three daughters; 17 grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren.
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