“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other, not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”
-Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
Nelson Mandela has been inspiring people all over the world with his fight against racial inequality. Today, 18th of July, is celebrated as Mandela Day in his honor. Here are some amazing facts about him that we would like to share with you on his birth anniversary.
Do you know them all?
- Royal Lineage
Born in 1918, Nelson Mandela belonged to a royal family. His paternal great-grandfather was the ruler of the Thembu tribe in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. His father used to counsel the monarchs and himself was a local chief. With four wives living in different villages, Nelson Mandela was his youngest son.
- What’s in a Name
He was named Rolihlahla Dalibhuna Mandela at birth by his parents. In Xhosa the name means ‘troublemaker’. His teacher gave him the name ‘Nelson’ on the first day of his elementary school in the 1920s. African children were given English names during those times so that the colonial masters could pronounce them easily. In 1981, a street in Glasgow, Scotland with South African consulate was renamed to ‘Nelson Mandela Place’ to show solidarity with Nelson Mandela while he was in prison.
- Professional Life
He was the first one in his family to attend school. He attended the Fort Hare Missionary College. While in college he was expelled because he organised a strike against the white rule in the college premises. After this, he went on to study law in the University of Witwatersrand. Thereafter, he joined the African National Congress in 1942.
Nelson Mandela’s speeches are considered to be best among the most inspirational addresses in the world. ‘Black man in a white man’s court’ was his first court statement in Pretoria in 1962. ‘I am prepared to die’ was the most famous speech he gave from the dock of the Pretoria courtroom in 1964. It is said that this speech saved his life. His first public speech in 27 years was at the Parade, Cape Town in 1990, after just being released from prison. ‘The 100-days speech’ was delivered by him when he completed 100 days in the office as the President of South Africa in 1994. Long after being retired as a President and from public life, he delivered ‘Don’t call me, I’ll call you’ in Johannesburg.
- Years in Prison
He was arrested in 1962 on the grounds that he tried to overthrow the government for which he received life imprisonment. His courtroom speech ‘I am prepared to die’ was recognised internationally after which an international campaign was carried out for his release. The apartheid government proposed to release him at six different times but he refused. He came out of the prison in Robben Island after 27 years.
- Presidential Regime
After being released from prison on 11th February, 1990, he became the first black President of South Africa in 1994. There was an increased probability of a civil war at that time but he handled it well by establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights abuses under apartheid.
- Married Life & Family
Nelson Mandela married thrice. His last wife was Graca Machel whom he married at the age of 80. He has six children and 17 grandchildren.
- The Movie Business
In Spike Lee’s 1992 biopic Malcolm X, he made a cameo as a school teacher, reciting Malcolm X’s famous speech to a room full of school kids from Soweto.
- Scientific Acknowledgements
As an honour from the Leeds University, a nuclear particle was named Mandela after him in 1973. He also has a specie of orchid named after him called Paravanda Nelson Mandela.
- The Sports Connection
To bring the racial divide in the country to an end, Mandela used sports. He knew that the people loved rugby and therefore he used this weapon to bring the blacks and whites together.
- Awards and Honours np.mu.ca
With over 250 awards to his name and honorary degrees from 50 universities, Nelson Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He is also the honorary member of the Manchester United and has been granted the honorary citizenship of Canada.
- Contribution Towards AIDS Awareness
Nelson Mandela’s only son passed away due to AIDS. After completing his presidential period, he became an advocate in support of the people suffering from AIDS. His only guilt in life was to not having been able to do much for AIDS awareness.
- The Terrorist Tag
The United States of America and Britain recognised him as a terrorist. It was only in 2008 that he was officially removed from the terror list by the United States.
- Spear of the Nation
Spear of the nation or Umkhonto we Sizwe was the armed wing of the African National Congress, founded by Nelson Mandela when he discovered that the non-violence movement wasn’t working as expected. He was trained in guerilla warfare.
- The Man Who Could Not Cry
After working in the limestone mines while in prison, his tear glands were damaged. This made it impossible for him to cry.
Nelson Mandela’s continuous efforts towards bringing racial equality in South Africa has paid off. This is why, today on Mandela Day, we still remember his ideals and respect his legacy. He has been a true inspiration for the youth today in order to establish peace in the world and restore faith in humanity.