Former South Africa President and beloved figure Nelson Mandela died Thursday at age 95.
"My Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding President of our democratic nation has departed. He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20h50 on the 5th of December 2013," South Africa’s current Presdient Jacob Zuma stated.
Mandela became a symbol of freedom due to his struggle against the country’s apartheid regime.
His efforts led to a sentence of life imprisonment in 1964. He was not released until 1990.
During that time, racial violence continued to erupt in the country. But Mandela was enlisted by South Africa’s then-president F.W. de Klerk to negotiate the end of apartheid, which led to his release. Both men were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
"As I finally walked through those gates ... I felt even at the age of 71 that my life was beginning anew. My 10,000 days of imprisonment were at last over," Mandela wrote of his release, which was watched by millions around the world.
Mandela went on to be elected the nation’s first black leader in 1994. He served in the post until 1999.
He was hospitalized in June for a lung infection, but was released Sept. 1 and reported stable. The infection was reportedly brought on due to tuberculosis, which Mandela contracted during his incarceration.
Mandela was married three times. First to Evelyn Ntoko Mase, with whom Mandela had four children. They married in 1944 and divorced in 1955. He next married Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela in 1958, and they had two children. They divorced in 1996.
He married his third wife, Graca Machel, on his 80th birthday in 1998, in a star-studded bash which included guests such as Stevie Wonder and Danny Glover.
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it," Mandela once said. "The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."