A statesman famous for leading anti-apartheid movements in South Africa, Nelson Mandela rose out of political prison to become President of his own country in the mid-1990s. He was the first black person to lead South Africa coming out of a period of great racial unrest. But how much do you actually know about the life and work of Nelson Mandela? Here is a full fact file to help fill you in.
- Nelson Mandela’s real first name was Rolihlahla. He’d inherited the name ‘Nelson’ from teachers at primary school. His real name actually roughly translates to ‘troublemaker’.
- Mandela was a central force in challenging South African apartheid from as early as the 1950s. This led to his eventual imprisonment and banning from leaving the country.
- Mandela studied law from a young age, which helped him gain an insight into the statutes which imposed racial segregation in South Africa.
- Mandela was infamously imprisoned for 28 years on grounds of conspiracy and treason. This occurred while the African National Congress was outlawed in the country, of which he was a youth leader. Once restrictions lifted on the ANC, Mandela was released – in 1990.
- The statesman became President of South Africa in 1994, but not before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize the year before. He received this accolade in line with his breaking down of apartheid and racial segregation in the country.
- Mandela’s son passed away as a result of complications from AIDS. Following his retirement, the statesman would dedicate his time to fund research into the condition and to develop communities.
- Much of this work continues through the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which persists onwards following his death.
- Mandela was father to six children and had 17 great-grandchildren. He married three times, the last time in 1998, on his 80th
- Mandela has a species of woodpecker named after him, the Australopicus nelsonmandelai.
- The statesman and activist was also a boxing fan, not for the thrill of the sport, but for the science behind it. “I did not like the violence of boxing,” Mandela stated in his autobiography, “I was more interested in the science of it, how you move your body to protect yourself, how you use a plan to attack and retreat, and how you pace yourself through a fight.”
- Mandela remained on the USA’s terror watch list as late as 2008, when he was 89 years old.
- Mandela held the distinction of standing for the Presidency, as well as winning it, the same year he first voted in an election. This of course, was as a result of his imprisonment.
- Mandela is thought to have had many favourite dishes, but he was particularly fond of tripe.
- Mandela had a state funeral following his passing in 2013 – he was 95 years old. Despite the state funeral, Mandela remains buried in a family cemetery in the vicinity of Qunu, after lying in state for some time.
Do you know any fun or interesting facts about Nelson Mandela you’d like to share here? Let us know in the comments section below!