There are many things to learn in this world. Especially from the people around us. We tend to emulate what we are surrounded by in our lives. Throughout history, there have been leaders and people who have been either famous or infamous. A commonality among all those people is that their lives can teach us lessons.

In a broader sense, that is the purpose of teaching history to students and, more importantly, diving into the lives of great people and the events they experienced. The purpose being so that we learn from their experiences and grow ourselves, move forward in life vary of the mistakes that have been made.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is a man counted amongst the great people who have left their mark. Mandela was a man of focus, commitment, and sheer will. We can learn many things from his life, important things like dignity and integrity, virtues that seem to have lost meaning in today’s world.

Nelson Mandela was at the forefront in the fight against apartheid and its eradication from Africa. He was a black man with the vigour and gall to stand up against apartheid, tyranny and colonialism.


The apartheid was a conscious and deliberate system of racial segregation (even the government approved of the unjust system). Through this system, there was discrimination against the non-white majority of the country. The discrimination of the non-whites was based solely on the colour of their skin. In this system, the white minority was at the head of the country’s social, economical, and political sectors.

Apartheid trickled down to the most basic levels of society. It was so much so that the whites even had separate seats and entrances in public buses. Even if they were empty, seats reserved for whites could not be occupied by the blacks. This example is particularly important as it led to the rise of the icon Rosa Parks that sparked a revolution.

There were various other things that the system introduced into society. Nelson Mandela was the man who sought to fight against these unjust regulations and stand up to the “white masters,” and free himself from these shackles. Taking along with him, all his fellow countrymen.

He was irked by the blatant injustice that the black people of the country faced. Not willing to adjust to this unjust system, he was strong-willed enough to fight back against it.


Here we give you an overview of the kind of life Madiba lived and the experiences he had. Here are 10 facts about the life of Nelson Mandela.

  1. Birth

Nelson Mandela was born to the Madiba clan of the Thembu tribe on July 18 1918, in the Transkei region. He passed away on December 5 2013, in Johannesburg after 95 long years.


  1. The Born Identity

During his early years, Nelson Mandela’s father used to call him “Rolihlahla.” Which translated to “Troublemaker.” There is irony in Mandela’s name as he eventually turned into quite a troublemaker for white bigots.


Despite a noble lineage, he lived a poor life. When he was younger, Africa was still developing, and various European powers had colonised it. The rampant exploitation of the continent did not leave the economics in a good state. In this autobiography, Mandela recollects having frugal meals for the longest time.


  1. The Ones to Raise Him

Nelson Mandela lost his father at an early. He was just nine years old when he lost his friend and mentor. Following this tragic event, Mandela was under the care of the regent of the Tembu Tribe, Jongintaba Dalindyebo.

The regent of the tribe was also the one who believed that Mandela should have a proper education. He was the one to push him towards an education.

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  1. Jail Time

In the 50s, the police claimed that Mandela was involved in communist activities. These claims were an attempt by the government to tarnish Mandela’s image that his followers had of him. On being arrested along with 155 people, he spent 27 years of his life in a prison cell.

After a series of trials, the court found Mandela and the arrested members of the African National Congress (ANC) not guilty of the crimes.


  1. Good Man Goes to War

The situations were tense during his struggle. Despite the ANC’s non-violent approach, armed conflict seeped through the cracks and was on the rise. While still in jail, the government offered Mandela a deal. The deal stated that he would be released from prison provided; he renounces his ideas and methods. Nelson Mandela chose to continue his prison sentence tagging the offer as immoral.


For Mandela, the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 was the last straw. The massacre pushed him to take up arms against the government. The change occurred because, due to the massacre, Mandela lost 69 protestors to the South African police.


Mandela abandoned his non-violent stance. He began advocating acts of sabotage against the South African government. After long meetings with ANC leaders, they set up the underground military wing of the Congress. The wing was named Umkhonto we Sizwe, with Mandela at the helm fully intent on using that Spear of the Nation.


  1. The Runaway Groom

Mandela was visiting his home on a break from his university in Johannesburg. Upon arriving, it was brought to his notice that his then-guardian, the regent, had suggested that Mandela be married the priest’s daughter.

Reluctant towards marriage, Mandela cut his visit short and ran off to Johannesburg.


  1. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Actually, Nelson Mandela got over 250 awards. Among these awards was the Nobel Peace Prize, which he received in 1993. He was awarded the laurel for peacefully destroying apartheid and laying the foundations of democracy in his country.


  1. Lawyer by Profession

Mandela went on to become a lawyer after completing his education. He also opened South Africa’s first black law practice along with his friend Oliver Tambo.


In the same year, he launched a defiance campaign against South Africa’s “pass laws”. On the basis that the laws were unjust. He thought so because the law required all non-whites to carry documents (known as passes) authorising their presence in the “restricted” areas reserved for the country’s white population.


  1. The “First-Ever”s

After completing his education, Nelson Mandela became one of the first black lawyers of South Africa. Post becoming a lawyer, Nelson established South Africa’s first black law practice. He had not undertaken this alone. He started the practice along with his fellow ANC leader Oliver Tambo.


In 1994, Madiba yet again noted his name down into the history books by becoming the First Black President of South Africa. His election was made even greater by the fact that he was the first to be elected in a fully representative election. He continued to be called “Mr. President” until 1999.


  1. A man with many names.

Nelson Mandela went on to be known by many names. The population called him Madiba, lovingly. Rolihlahla, the name his father used to call him, also was his maiden name.

During the fight against apartheid, Mandela had to go underground in order to save himself from being harmed, or worse, killed. His amazing ability to evade capture soon earned him the nickname, The Black Pimpernel. After his endeavours in the struggle against apartheid, the world tagged him “The Greatest Freedom Fighter of the 20th Century”.


Nelson Mandela wore many caps throughout his life. Dubbed “The Greatest Freedom Fighter of the 20th Century”, he was an anti-apartheid activist, Robben Island jailed terrorist, ANC leader and eventually a cultural icon. In 1994, the first black president of South Africa published his autobiography, by the name “Long Walk to Freedom”. If you wish to know more about the life of this charismatic leader, this is the book to read.