Nelson Mandela received an honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts at the former South African president's foundation on Wednesday. An honorary doctorate degree of humane letters was presented to Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, by UMass president Jack Wilson at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa. "Nelson Mandela is a hero to all people who value freedom and dignity and justice," Wilson said. "President Mandela's principled opposition to tyranny and injustice inspires us today and will inspire our sons and daughters for generations to come." Mandela was imprisoned for nearly three decades for his anti-apartheid activities. He was released in 1990 and was elected president in South Africa's first free elections in 1994, a year after receiving a Nobel Peace Prize. He left office in 1999, but has continued to work on problems such as poverty, illiteracy and AIDS that persist in Africa.