Nelson Mandela, beloved former president of South Africa, died today at his home in Johannesburg from complications due to a recurring lung infection. He was 95. Current South African President Jacob Zuma said, “We’ve lost our greatest son.” Mandela became the first black president of South Africa in 1994, a position he held until 1999. Prior to that, he spent 27 years in prison for his role as a leader in the anti-apartheid movement. His imprisonment sparked a worldwide movement to free him and brought attention to the racial inequality that existed in South Africa at the time.
After he retired from office, Mandela worked for several humanitarian causes, offering his time and efforts to such issues as the AIDS epidemic as well as the blood diamond controversy. Mandela, who was famously married to Winnie Mandela, a fellow activist, is survived by his third wife, Graça Machel, three daughters (two with Winnie and one with first wife Evelyn) and 17 grandchildren. He was predeceased by a daughter and two sons. Several movies have been made about his life, including the upcoming Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom, based on his autobiography. It opens December 25. Other movies about Nelson Mandela include Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela and last year’s Winnie, starring Terrence Howard as Mandela and Jennifer Hudson as Winnie Mandela. Click here to read Mandela’s life story.