20 Things You Need to Know About Nelson Mandela

By The Nelson Mandela Foundation

Mandela with chris hani 2 (1990/1994) by Eric MillerThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

#1: Who was Nelson Mandela?
Known and loved around the world for his commitment to peace, negotiation and reconciliation, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was South Africa's first democratically elected president (1994-1999). Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary and political leader, as well as a philanthropist with an abiding love for children. Mandela was born into the Xhosa royal family on 18 July 1918 and died on 5 December 2013.

Rural Scene (1930) by A.M. Duggan Cronin, McGregor museum KimberleyThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

#2: Where was Nelson Mandela born?
Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape, on 18 July 1918. His mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni and his father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo.

Mbuso Mandela (1996-01-01)Original Source: To download a photograph click here

#3: What does the name "Madiba" mean?
Madiba is the name of the Thembu clan to which Mandela belongs. It gets its name from a 19th century chief. All the members of this clan can be called Madiba. Mandela was called Madiba as a sign of both respect and affection.

Nelson Mandela and Jerry Moloi sparring by Bob Gosani/ BAHAThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

#4: Who gave him the name 'Nelson'?
Mandela attended primary school in Qunu where his teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave him the name Nelson, in accordance with the custom of giving all schoolchildren “Christian” names.

First Democratic Elections (1994-04-27)Original Source: Paul Weinberg / South Photos

#5: How tall was Nelson Mandela?
1.84m

Winni and Mandela getting married (1958-06) by UWC, Robben Island , Mayibuye archives / Eli WeinbergThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

#6: How many marriages did Nelson Mandela have and to whom?
Mandela was married three times. He was first married to Evelyn Ntoko Mase in 1944. They separated in 1955 and divorced in 1958. They had two daughters and two sons.

In June 1958 Mandela married Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela. They had two daughters, Zenani and Zindziswa. They divorced in 1996.

On his 80th birthday in 1998 Nelson Mandela married Graca Machel, who brought two children and two step-children into the marriage.

Nelson Mandela made a dramatic entrance into the court wearing a Thembu royal costume. (1962-10-22) by Associated PressThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

#7: On what day was Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment?
On 12 June 1964.

8 Rivonia Trialists (1964) by UnknownRobben Island Museum

#8: Who were the other accused in the Rivonia Trial?
On 9 October 1963 Mandela joined 10 others on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. The other accused were Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi, Rusty Bernstein, Bob Hepple, Andrew Mlangeni and James Kantor.

scan0003The Nelson Mandela Foundation

#9: What did Nelson Mandela say in his defence speech on 20 April 1964?
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Nelson Mandela with Winnie Mandela as he is released from the Victor Vester Prison (1990-11-02) by Graeme WilliamsOriginal Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

#10: On what day was Nelson Mandela released from prison?
11 February 1990. He served 27 years in prison.

Migrants crossing the road, Johannesburg (1950) by Museum AfricaThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

#11: What was apartheid?
Apartheid was the official policy of the National Party, which became the governing party of South Africa in 1948. Apartheid, which means "separateness", was the practice of official racial segregation in every aspect of life.

Under apartheid, everyone in South Africa had to be classified according to a particular racial group. This classification determined where someone could be born, where they could live, where they could go to school, where they could work, where they could be treated if they were sick and where they could be buried if they died. Only white people could vote and they had the best opportunities and the most money was spent on their facilities. Apartheid made others live in poverty. Black South Africans' lives were strictly controlled. Many thousands of people died in the struggle to end apartheid.

Nelson Mandela in Algeria (1962) by UWC , Robben Island, Mayibuye archivesThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

#12: What was Nelson Mandela’s vision during the apartheid era?
Mandela's vision during the apartheid era was for the eradication of racism and for the establishment of a constitutional democracy. He envisioned a South Africa in which all its citizens had equal rights and where every adult would have the right to vote for the government of his or her choice.

Gilbert Nzimeni Collection Healdtown photograph (front)The Nelson Mandela Foundation

#13: What beliefs and actions influenced Nelson Mandela as a leader?
Mandela was driven by an unshakeable belief in the equality of all people and his determination to overthrow the system of apartheid in South Africa. He helped to organise and to lead many peaceful campaigns, but after violent disruptions by the state and its outlawing of the opposition organisations, it became clear to him and his comrades that peaceful protest was impossible. In 1961 they decided to turn to an armed struggle and established Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation) – also known as MK – as an army for freedom fighters.

Nelson Mandela recollecting with Verne Harris (2004-08-13) by photographer Matthew Willman on behalf of the Nelson Mandela FoundationThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

#14: Which organisations did Nelson Mandela establish?
Mandela helped to found the African National Congress Youth League in 1944. He also helped in 1961 to establish Umkhonto weSizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress and was its first Commander-in-Chief. When he was President of South Africa he started the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and donated one-third of his salary every month to the organisation. In 1999 after he stepped down as President he started the Nelson Mandela Foundation as a post-presidential office and charity to assist in various causes. In 2003 he founded the Mandela Rhodes Foundation to assist postgraduate students from throughout Africa to further their studies. He also established the Mandela Institute for Education and Rural Development

City Hall Cape Town (1990-02-11) by © Chris LedochowskiThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

#15: How many people did Nelson Mandela free?
The liberation movements freed all the people of South Africa.

First Democratic Elections (1994-04-27)Original Source: Paul Weinberg / South Photos

#16: When did Nelson Mandela become President?
On 10 May 1994 Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President.

Retire coverThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

#17: When did Nelson Mandela step down as President?
Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as President. He dedicated his post-1999 retirement to a vast range of charitable work including the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, The Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

Nelson Mandela reading letter from Maharaj family (2004-08-13) by photographer Matthew Willman on behalf of the Nelson Mandela FoundationThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

#18: How many books did Nelson Mandela author?
Three. His autobiography Long Walk to Freedom published in 1994; Conversations with Myself published in 2010; and Nelson Mandela By Himself: The Authorised Book of Quotations published in 2011

Great-Grandson Ziyanda Manaway (Mandela) 02 (2009-09-10/2009-09-10)The Nelson Mandela Foundation

#19: How old was Nelson Mandela when he died?
Mandela died at the age of 95 at his home in Johannesburg on 5 December 2013.

Thank you for Mandela Day (2009-07-17)The Nelson Mandela Foundation

#20: What is Mandela Day?
Nelson Mandela International Day was launched in recognition of his birthday on 18 July 2009 via unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly.

It was inspired by a call Mandela made a year earlier, for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now”. It is more than a celebration of Madiba’s life and legacy; it is a global movement to honour his life’s work and to change the world for the better.

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