Mandela has had a series of health problems in his life. He contracted tuberculosis during his years in prison and had surgery for an enlarged prostate gland in 1985. In 2001, Mandela underwent seven weeks of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, ultimately beating the disease.
In February, Mandela spent a night in a hospital for a minor diagnostic surgery to determine the cause of an abdominal complaint.
Mandela was a leader in the struggle against racist white rule in South Africa and for preaching reconciliation once he emerged from prison in 1990 after 27 years behind bars. He won South Africa’s first truly democratic elections in 1994, serving one five-year term. The Nobel laureate later retired from public life to live in his remote village of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, and last made a public appearance when his country hosted the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament.
Mandela disengaged himself with the country’s politics fairly successfully over the last decade and has grown increasing frail in recent years.
(Photo Credit: AP)