Nelson Mandela made us understand that it was possible to make the world a better place. He was convinced that we all had the ability to change the world and inspire others to do so. He has been, is and will always be an example to follow in matter of peace and human rights. Today, on Nelson Mandela International Day, we would like to share with you some curiosities about the man whose convictions have changed the history of South Africa!
1. Nelson is not his real name.
His real name is Rolihlahla which in the South-African language xhosa refers to someone who moves the branches of a tree. Some people also call him Madiba for his belonging to the Madiba clan of the Xhosa ethnic group. However, everyone knows him under the name given by his school teacher of Britain origin when he was 7 years old: Nelson!
2. Nelson Mandela was a lawyer
This is probably one of the least known aspects of his life. He studied law at the University of Witwatersrand and a few years later, he founded the first law firm of people of colour in the country. His goal? To advise those who did not have access to these services for financial reasons!
3. He was imprisoned for 27 years
In 1964, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiracy and sabotage. He was the prisoner number 466/64. Today, this number is a world symbol for freedom and other social causes. In 2002, the Mandela Foundation created the 46664 HIV awareness campaign.
After 27 years, he was released after secrets talks with the South African president Klerk. The news of his release was a source of joy all around the world! On the day of his release, in the euphoria of the moment, Madiba did not realise that he had forgotten his glasses until just before starting his speech. He had to ask his wife Winnie for them!
4. He was the first black president of South Africa
In 1994, when South Africans first exercised their right to vote, Mandela won more than 60% of the votes. This is how he became not only the first black president in South Africa but also a symbol of the end of apartheid!
5. He was on the list of suspected terrorists in the United States
It was only in 2008 that the United States decided to remove the name of the South African leader from its list of suspected terrorists. Only 11 years ago!
6. A passionate boxing fan
In his youth, Mandela liked to box. In his biography, he wrote that it is not violence that attracted him to this sport but the its science, how the body uses strategies to protect itself. In addition to being a good exercise to release tension and a sport in which no distinction is made between races or social classes. However, the South African leader said he had not took part in any boxing match since the beginning of his political life.
7. He made rugby a symbol of social union in South Africa
The 1990s in South Africa was the period of the apartheid among the so-called ‘whites’ and the people of colour. In this context, any issue was a source of confrontation. This was the case with the national team, the ‘Springboks’ which was almost exclusively composed of ‘white’ players and supporters who were very critical of Mandela. South Africans of colour, on the other hand, were encouraging any rival team of the ‘Springboks’. This made Nelson Mandela even more aware of the need to unify the South African society and the only possible way seemed to be sport. So, after meeting with the team captain, the team toured the country the year before the World Cup giving rugby lessons to children of colour from the most disadvantaged regions. A year later, the ‘Springboks’ won the World Cup and this time, regardless of the colour of skin, all of South Africa took the streets to celebrate the victory of their national team!
8. His face appears on a banknote
The Central Bank of South Africa, in recognition of his great work for the country, issued in 2012 a banknote with the face of Nelson Mandela.
9. Up to 5 movies to get to know him better
Of course, he is not acting in those movies, but you will learn more about his life, his dreams and the actions he had carried on. Are you interested? These are the 5 movies that will help you better understand Nelson Mandela’s great work: “Invictius”, “Mandela”, “Mandela and Klerk”, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” and “Endgame”.
10. The poem ‘Invictus’ was his inspiration
This is the poem that inspired Mandela in his prison years, here we leave you a small extract:
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