(Johannesburg) -- Former South African President Nelson Mandela has died. Mandela had been dealing with health issues over the past several months that led to his hospitalization on more than one occasion. Mandela stepped aside as president in 1999, and appeared increasingly frail in rare public appearances.
Nelson Mandela was born in July of 1918 and gained notoriety as a civil rights leader in South Africa. The winner of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, he and others fought against the ruling National Party's practice of apartheid, in which minority whites ruled the majority blacks through legalized racial segregation. Mandela was convicted with others of plotting to overthrow the government and was sentenced to life in prison in 1962.
It was while in prison that Mandela became internationally known. He refused to compromise his political ideals in order to be released from prison and became a symbol of resistance for the anti-apartheid movement. Mandela was released from prison in February of 1990 and began working tirelessly to abolish the legal segregation of the National Party. After apartheid was dismantled, Mandela was elected President of South Africa in 1994.