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Photos: Nelson Mandela, 1918 - 2013

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Nelson Mandela
Circa 1964: Nelson Mandela, President of the African National Congress (left) in discussion with C Andrews, a Cape Town teacher.
Three Lions/Getty Images

JOHANNESBURG (AP) - Nelson Mandela was a master of forgiveness. South Africa's first black president spent nearly one-third of his life as a prisoner of apartheid, the system of white racist rule that he described as evil, yet he sought to win over its defeated guardians in a relatively peaceful transition of power that inspired the world. 

        As head of state, the ex-boxer, lawyer and inmate lunched with the prosecutor who argued successfully for his incarceration, sang the apartheid-era Afrikaans anthem at his inauguration and traveled hundreds of miles to have tea with the widow of Hendrik Verwoerd, the prime minister at the time he was sent to prison who was also the architect of white rule.

        It was this generosity of spirit that made Mandela, who died on Thursday at the age of 95, a global symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation  in a world often jarred by conflict and division.

 • Read more about Mandela's life and legacy