The Never Forget Series (Nelson Mandela)

Posted on: May 19th, 2017 | by:

Nelson Mandela


Hi everyone, I’m doing a short series titled “Never Forget” that highlights interesting facts about important African Personalities. Today’s post is about Nelson Mandela. Below are 7 interesting facts about the man who led South Africa to freedom:


Mandela’s birth name was Rolihlahla Mandela.  “Rolihlahla” which loosely translates as “troublemaker” in the Xhosa language, but strictly translated, the word means “pulling the branch of a tree.” He was given the first name ‘Nelson’ by a teacher in grade school.


Mandela was no stranger to trouble. He was expelled from the University of Fort Hare after joining a student protest. He later completed his degree through Unisa and later got a law degree from Wits University.


Mandela suffered the losses of two close family members while imprisoned. His mother died in 1968 and his eldest son, Thembi, died the following year. Mandela wasn’t permitted to pay his respects at their funerals.


Mandela reportedly received at least three offers to be set free from prison. However, he declined each time because he was offered his freedom on the condition that he reject his earlier activism in some way.


He was on the U.S. terror watch list: Mandela wasn’t removed from the U.S. terror watch list until 2008 — at age 89. He and other members of the African National Congress were placed on it because of their militant fight against apartheid.


He had a cameo in a Spike Lee film: He had a big part in Spike Lee’s 1992 biopic “Malcolm X.” At the very end of the movie, he plays a teacher reciting Malcolm X’s famous speech to a room full of Soweto school kids. But the pacifist Mandela wouldn’t say “by any means necessary.” So Lee cut back to footage of Malcolm X to close out the film.


He married a first lady. Before tying the knot with Mandela on his 80th birthday, Graca Machel was married to Mozambique President Samora Machel. Her marriage to Mandela after her husband’s death means she has been the first lady of two nations.

Thank you so much for reading. Any suggestions on who I should do next? Send me a message on twitter.

Benjamin J. Obeng