Here’s 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Nelson Mandela

madiba_1There’s more to Nelson Mandela Madiba, the South African freedom fighter and one of the most honoured persons of the last century than most of us know, even though we all feel like we’ve studied the man. For example, while the aforementioned names are correct, at birth, his father chose to name him Rolihlahla, a traditional Xhosa name which simply translates to “troublemaker.”

In fact, Mandela only got the name Nelson on his first day at school! In his autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, Mandela interestingly recounts the incidence as follows. “On the first day of school, my teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave each of us an english name and said that from thenceforth that was the name we would answer to in school. This was the custom among Africans in those days and was undoubtedly due to the British bias of our education. The education I received was a British education, in which British ideas, British culture, British institutions, were automatically assumed to be superior. There was no such thing as African culture. Even today, most Africans of my generation, generally have both an English and an African name. Whites were either unable or unwilling to pronounce an African name, and considered it uncivilized to have one. That day, Miss Mdingane told me that my new name was Nelson. Why she bestowed this particular name upon me I have no idea. Perhaps it has to do with the great British sea captain Lord Nelson, But that would be only a guess”.

Nelson Mandela Royalty 

Mandela’s father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, was the chief “by both blood and custom” of Mvenzo; a position confirmed by the superior chief or king of the entire Thembu people. A great uncle of Mandela was the paramount king of the Thembu but since Mandela was born to a third wife, the lineage had passed down to him in a lesser “advisory” role than that of a potential successor. Nevertheless, when Mandela’s father passed away, Mandela moved into the home of his uncle and the paramount chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo and he was trained and groomed to one day fulfill his role as an advisor to the King’s son and his cousin Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo; now King of the Thembu family.

Evelyn Mase – Mandela’s first wife

maseContrary to popular beliefs, Winnie Mandela is not Nelson Mandela’s first wife. Before Winnie, there was Evelyn Mase. A Xhosa like Mandela, Evelyn met Mandela through family friends Walter and Albertina Sisulu after she had moved to Soweto to study as a nurse. Evelyn and Mandela married on the 5th of October 1944 at the cities Native Commissioner’s court. The couple had four children together but their relationship broke down soon after Mandela became increasingly political and Evelyn converted to a Jehovah Witness. They divorced in 1958. In the past, Evelyn has accused Mandela of many things among them adultery.

Mandela’s First day out of prison 

After serving 27 years in prison, where do you think Mandela spent his first night of freedom? Mandela chose to spend his first night as a free man at his friends house; South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It is believed that Tutu had his cooks prepare his own labourite meal of chicken curry, rice and green salad and had rum raisin ice cream and custard for dessert.

UN Mandela day

Four years ago today, on his 91st birthday and about a year after Mandela had made a speech calling for new leaders to relieve his generation from the burdens of leadership. The United Nations ratified July 18th as Mandela Day worldwide. The day aims to encourage global citizens to give at least 67 minutes of their day to reflect on how they can apply themselves to improve the conditions of the world they live in. The 67 minute’s were formulated for a minute to represent each year of Mandela’s service.

Nelson Mandela Awards 

mandelaNelson Mandela has received as many awards and prizes as anyone dead or alive, he is loved by the media and citizens all around the world but did you know that he’s received over 250 awards and more than 50 honorary degrees from universities and various academic institutions worldwide. His a Noble Peace Prize winner and the last recipient of the Lenin Peace Price from the Soviet Union. In 2001, Nelson Mandela became the first honorary Canadian Citizen.

Mandela and Cuba’s Castro

When you think of Cuba, or Castro, you don’t necessarily think of South Africa, or Mandela. Well, this two nations and men share among them a strong bond built on mutual admiration and respect. While speaking about Fidel Castro, Mandela once noted that “What Fidel has done for us is difficult to describe with words, first in the struggle against Apartheid he did not hesitate to give us all his help and now that we are free we have many Cuban doctors working here”. To get a good understanding of how this relationship developed, watch the video below of the two men!

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  • Moses is the Founder of The African Perspective Magazine. TAP is an online Pan-African magazine he started while studying in Canada after being frustrated with seeing how Africa and Africans were often portrayed in the media.

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