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World mourns loss of former South African President Nelson Mandela

Former South African President Nelson Mandela is dead at the age of 95.
Cape Town, South Africa (WSYR-TV) - Former South African President Nelson Mandela is dead at the age of 95.

The iconic leader battled health problems for months - including a lung infection that led to multiple hospitalizations.

Mandela is largely credited with guiding South Africa out of decades of apartheid, an institution that systematically denied black South Africans the same rights as whites.

Born in 1918, Mandela was the son of a tribal leader in a remote African community.

His meteoric rise to national - and international - stature began in 1952 when he helped organize the Defiance Campaign in protest of apartheid.

Mandela became commander of the African National Congress' military wing in 1961 and was imprisoned in 1962 on a charge that he incited a strike.

Shortly afterward, he was sentenced to life in prison for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the white government.

During his years in prison, Mandela became emblematic of the black struggle for equality and freedom in South Africa - even as the white government banned depictions of the legendary leader.

In 1994, Mandela was elected as South Africa's first black president.

More than 4,000 deaths preceded the nation's first fully free elections in 1994.

He retired from the presidency in 1999.

More details are available on the ABC News website.

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