Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

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


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.