70+ Interesting Facts About Nelson Mandela

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Nelson Mandela is one of the most famous and controversial personalities of the 20st and the 21st centuries. Undoubtedly, he is the most popular African political figure in history.

Nelson Mandela is one of the most famous and controversial personalities of the 20th and the 21st centuries. Undoubtedly, he is the most popular African political figure in history. What makes this person popular? Check this out!

Today, July 18, is Mandela Day!

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1.) His original name is Rolihlahla Mandela. His teacher Miss Mdingane gave him the English name “Nelson”.

2.) Rolihlahla means “to pull a branch of a tree”, or more colloquially, “troublemaker”.

3.) Nelson Mandela was born under the Zodiac sign Cancer on July 18, 1918.

4.) Nelson Mandela was born in Mveso, Umtata (capital of Transkei) in Cape Province.

5.) Nelson’s paternal great-grandfather Ngubengcuka ruled as king of the Thembu people.

6.) His surname Mandela was taken from his grandfather.

7.) The father of Nelson had four wives, with whom he fathered 13 children – 4 boys and 9 girls.

8.) His mother, Nosekeni Fanny, is the third wife of his father Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa.

9.) Rolihlahla Mandela became the first member of his family to attend a school.

10.) Nelson Mandela’s father died of TB or tuberculosis when he was 9 years of age.

11.) When his father died Jongintaba (regent) became his guardian.

12.) Nelson Mandela is often known as Madiba, an honorary title adopted by elders of his clan, in his native in South Africa.

13.) He completed his Junior Certificate in two years, instead of the usual three.

14.) He enrolled at the University College of Fort Hare for the Bachelor of Arts Degree where he was elected onto the Student’s Representative Council.

15.) Nelson was suspended from college for joining in a protest boycott.

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16.) When he was 19, he participated in boxing and marathon in school.

17.) After his suspension, Jongintaba announced to Mandela and Justice (the regent's son and heir to the throne) that he had arranged marriages for both of them.

18.) Mandela was displeased by the arrangement and chose to runaway and stayed in Johannesburg.

19.) Nelson’s first job was as a guard at a mine but quickly terminated by his employee upon learning that he was the Regent’s runaway ward.

20.) His second job was as an articled clerk at Whitkin, Sidelsky and Edelman law firm in Johannesburg.

21.) Nelson finished his B.A. degree via correspondence at the University of South Africa.

22.) Mandela studied for a Bachelor of Laws while in prison from the University of London External Programme.

23.) In 1952 Mandela and Tambo had opened the first black legal firm in South Africa.

24.) Mandela and 150 others were arrested on December 5, 1956 and charged with treason. They were all acquitted in 1961.

25.) During his years of hiding, to evade arrest, Mandela adopted different forms of disguises that earned him the title of the “Black Pimpernel”.

26.) Although he started and wanted to achieve independence through non-violence approach he moved to armed struggle as a last resort.

27.) The MK guerrilla wars waged against the apartheid regime resulted in numerous civilian casualties.

28.) Mandela admitted that the ANC, in its struggle against apartheid, also violated human rights.

29.) Nelson Mandela was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges in 1962.

30.) He was imprisoned for 27 years and was released in 1990, 18 years of which were spent in the Robben Island – that eventually came to be so-called “Mandela University”.

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31.) In prison, Mandela never compromised his political principles and was always a source of strength for the other prisoners.

32.) Mandela was as a D-group prisoner, the lowest classification, where he was allowed one visitor and one letter (often made unreadable by the prison censors) every six months.

33.) Mandela was offered his freedom in 1985 by President Botha but turned it down and released a statement saying “What freedom am I being offered while the organization of the people remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts.”

34.) It was President De Klerk who announced Mandela's release in February 1990. This historic event was broadcast live all over the world.

35.) He was the very first South African president to be elected in a fully democratic election.

36.) Prior to his election as president, he was an anti-apartheid activist.

37.) Nelson was also the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the African National Congress or ANC.

38.) After assuming the presidency, one of Mandela's trademarks was his use of Batik shirts, known as "Madiba shirts", even on formal occasions.

39.) Nelson Mandela is the oldest elected President of South Africa. He was 75 years old when he was elected.

40.) One of Mandela’s major failure as South Africa’s President, was his government's ineffectiveness in stemming the AIDS crisis.

41.) He opted not to stand for a second term and was succeeded by Thabo Mbeki.

42.) His popular statement against the US; "If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don't care."

43.) In 2009, the UN General Assembly declared July 18 (Nelson’s birthday) as “Mandela Day” to mark his contribution to world freedom.

44.) Quite unbelievable but Mandela is one of the most awarded persons in history receiving more than 250 awards.

45.) Nelson’s most significant award is his 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, an award shared with President F.W. de Klerk.

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46.) Nelson Mandela has received honorary degrees from more than 50 international universities worldwide and is chancellor of the University of the North.

47.) Unique awards of Nelson include; he was the first living person to be made an honorary Canadian citizen in 2001, the last ever Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union, the Atatürk Peace Award by Turkey and others.

48.) The 1985 Oscar for the song “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder was dedicated to Nelson Mandela.

49.) The 2006 music video “If Everyone Cared” by Nickelback is a summary of nelson Mandela’s life story.

50.) Long Walk to Freedom is Nelson Mandela’s autobiography which was published in 1994.

51.) The film Mandela and De Klerk told the story of Mandela’s release from prison. Mandela was played by Sidney Poitier.

52.) Goodbye Bafana, a feature film that was release in 2007, focuses on Mandela’s life. The film starred Dennis Haysbert as Mandela and chronicled Mandela’s relationship with prison guard James Gregory.

53.) The Cosby Show Cliff and Claire Huxtable’s grandchildren were named Nelson and Winnie in honor of Mandela and his ex-wife Winnie.

54.) Invictus, a film directed by Clint Eastwood, and featured Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Pienaar.

55.) Sandton Square in Johannesburg was renamed Nelson Mandela Square in 2004. A 6-meter statue of Nelson Mandela was installed on the square in honor of Mandela.

56.) A South African species of trapdoor spider was named Stasimopus mandelai in honor of Mandela in 2004.

57.) A statue of Nelson Mandela was unveiled at Parliament Square in London in August 2007.

58.) Nelson Mandela has been married three times, has fathered six children, has twenty grandchildren, and a growing number of great-grandchildren.

59.) His first marriage was to Evelyn Ntoko Mase but the couple broke up in 1957 after 13 years.

60.) Mandela’s second marriage was to Winnie Madikizela, first black social worker of Johannesburg. They had two daughters. The union ended in a divorce in 1996.

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61.) Mandela’s third marriage was to Graca Machel in 1998. He was 80 year-old when she married Graca.

62.) Nelson Mandela was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 2001.

63.) Handel’s or Tchaikovsky’s music is Nelson Mandela’s favorites.

64.) Since the 1940s, no matter how late he has worked the previous evening he’s up by 4:30 AM and by 5:00 AM he has begun his exercise routine that lasts at least an hour.

65.) His regular breakfast at 6.30 AM, consist of plain porridge, with fresh fruit and fresh milk, when the day’s newspapers are read.

66.) Nelson Mandela works 12 hours a day and hated tardiness so much.

67.) His favorite foods are the traditionally prepared meat of a freshly slaughtered sheep and the delicacy Amarhewu, a fermented corn-meal.

68.) Nelson has outlive his two oldest sons, Thembi died of car crash at age 25 while he was in prison and Mandela was not allowed to attend the funeral.

69.) Makgatho, his second son, died of AIDS at age 54 in 2005.

Nelson Mandela’s two daughters to his first wife were both named Maki.

70.) Mandela’s grandson Prince Cedza Dlamini (born 1976), educated in the United States, has followed his footsteps as an international advocate for human rights and humanitarian aid.

71.) Nelson Mandela retired from Public life in June 1999. He currently resides in his birth place in Transkei.

72.) During the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Nelson Mandela made a rare public appearance during the closing ceremony and was warmly applauded..

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