Mandela’s birth name Rolihlahla means, “to pull a branch of a tree” or “troublemaker”. Mandela is named Rolihlahla at birth, given the Western name Nelson at seven years old by his schoolteacher, then given the name Dalibunga at age 16 after his initiation, and often referred to as Madiba (the name of his clan) out ofrespect.

His father’s name was Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa and his mother’s name Fanny Nosekeni.

He is the youngest son of his father’s four wives, and the only surviving son

Often he said he was a country boy

He loved to whistle

Sidney Poitier played Nelson Mandela in the 1997 film “Mandela and De Klerk”

Morgan Freeman played Mandela in the film, Invictus, released in 2009

On 12 June 1964 he was sentenced to prison (Robben Island)

On 11 February 1990 he was released from prison

He hadn’t hear of the ANC until he got to Fort Hare

He liked ballroom dancing, first introduced to him at Fort Hare University, Alice, Eastern Cape

He met Oliver Tambo at Fort Hare for the first time

As students at Fort Hare, he and other students used to sneak out to a farm to roast mealies. He said he yearned for

simple pleasures

He was expelled from Fort Hare

He was 23 years old when he arrived in Jhb

He loved traditional foods from the Eastern Cape – e.g. amasi from a calabash and would not go to a shop to buy it from

a box.

He enjoyed relaxing at home, reading quietly and also enjoyed the smell of cooking emanating from pots

He loved picnics in the 1950s

He always used to invite people to his home without prior warning to Winnie

He always wanted to explore culture of others by way of their foods

Winnie learnt to cook curry early in their marriage because he had seemed to enjoy it on their first date

While in prison, Mandela wrote a letter to Ismail Meer, Fatima Meer’s husband, thanking him for teaching him to eat

and enjoy curry

Tuesday 14 June 2011 11:04

Prisoners were given permission to establish a garden. This gave Madiba a small taste of freedom as he was custodian of a small peace of land

George Bizos recalled that he, Mandela and Tambo occasionally worked together, and when they went out, they had to

eat in a car. They couldn’t be seen eating together in public

Joe Matthews observed that he was always good to his children

Imprisonment: Mandela was arrested on several occasions and stood trial four times.

On 30 July 1952, he and 19 others were arrested for his role in the Defiance Campaign and stood trial in

September 1952. He and the 19 others were found guilty on 2 December for ‘statutory Communism’ – which the

apartheid regime used to define people who opposed its laws. Their sentence was nine months in jail with hard labour,

suspended for five years.

On 5 December 1956 he and others were arrested on charges of High Treason. They were released on bail about two

weeks later. At the end of the four-and-a-half year trial, charges were withdrawn against all the accused. On 29 March

1961 he and 28 colleagues were found to be innocent of the charges laid against them.

During the Treason Trial the African National Congress was outlawed and Mr Mandela began operating secretly after

the end of the trial. Later that year, Umkhonto weSizwe, the armed wing of the ANC, was formed. Mr Mandela left the

country at the beginning of 1962 for military training and to gather support for the ANC. He was arrested in South Africa

on 5 August 1962 and charged with inciting people to strike and for leaving the country without a passport. He was

convicted and on 7 November 1962 he was sentenced to five years in jail. He was sent to Robben Island Maximum

Security Prison in May 1963. But in July 1963 he was brought to Pretoria to stand trial for sabotage in what became

known as the Rivonia Trial, most of the accused were arrested at a farm in a suburb of Johannesburg called Rivonia.

That trial started in October 1963 and on 12 June 1964, eight of the nine accused were convicted of sabotage.

The next day they were sentenced to life imprisonment.

He was imprisoned on section B of Robben Island

In 1978 section B prisoners were given permission to establish a garden. This gave Madiba a small taste of freedom as

he was a custodian of this patch of land .

The garden was a source of emotional support and it became a vital source of the conception of his biography

Long Walk to Freedom

He started writing the Long Walk to Freedom at night while on Robben Island. He gave it to Walter Sisulu for comment.

The original version of the Long Walk to Freedom was buried in empty cocoa tins in the Robben Island garden. But this

was discovered when a new wall was constructed around the garden

His prison number was 46664 — representing that he is the 466th prisoner on Robben Island in 1964

In 1973 Mandela was removed from the hard labour of the quarry

He then collected seaweed on the island’s coast – sold to Japan as fertilizer – where he also ate well

He discovered he shared a birthday with judge Fikile Bam who was also imprisoned

Mandela would give Bam biscuits and chocolates

Mosiuoa Lekota and Tokyo Sexwale used to go into Mandela’s cell to look for biscuits

Mandela and fellow comrades used food, real and imagined, to reflect their hunger for freedom

He was dubbed the black pimpernel by the media – he was on the run from the police and had been organising rallies to

stop apartheid

Prison diet was racialised. Indian and coloured prisoners’ diet was better than that of Africans, who were placed on the

F diet. The F diet constituted the following: Breakfast (porridge and 1 spoon of sugar; two for coloureds and Indians);

Lunch (porridge or boiled mealies and a yeast drink known as phuzamandla); Dinner (porridge and a mug of thin soup

In January 1985, Mandela went on his first secret day trip out of Pollsmoor

On 24 December he was taken by Col Gawie Marx on a drive around the Cape Peninsula. Gawie and his son left him in

an unlocked car while they went to buy coca-cola. Mandela later said he had been tempted to run, but soon thought it

might have been a set up

He moved to Victor Verster in 1988 – his new home was four-roomed with a stove, microwave, fridge, deep freeze,

toaster and a personal chef, Jack Swart

On 4 February 1990, De Klerk announced Mandela’s release and the unbanning of the ANC, PAC and SACP

On 11 February 1990, Mandela was released from Victor Verster with Winnie’s hand in his as they exited the gates


Mandela later said he felt his life was beginning anew at that moment

Mandela’s first address after 27 years was at the Cape Town City Hall

He spent his first night as a free man at Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s Bishop’s court home

That night he ate chicken curry, rice and green salad. For desert he had rum and raisin ice cream and custard,

Tutu’s favourite. The meal was prepared by Tutu’s helpers, Mrs Nakani and Lilian Ngoboza. After the meal Mandela went to thank the ladies and told them he had enjoyed their curry very much

He spent his second night as a free man in Jhb at Sally Rowney’s home, which was close to the airport.

Rowney was surprised that Mandela had woken up hours before, made his bed and had had cereal

His third night as a free man was spent at no 8115 Ngakane Street, Orlando West – his home. Mandela wrote of that e

xperience: “It was only then that I knew in my heart that I had left prison. For me 8115 Ngakane was the centre point of my world, the place marked with an X in my mental geography.”

The Mandelas had a difficult time adjusting to one another as a family, especially as there were constantly visitors

Zindzi said it took a long time for her family to connect and get used to one another

When he came out of prison, Mandela’s children said to him: “We thought we had a father and one day he’d come back.

To our dismay, our father has become the father of the nation.” He further said: “To be the father of a nation is a great

honour, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a joy I had far too little of.”

Robben Island was closed in 1991

Robben Island became a museum in 1999

He was an avid boxer and would train several times a week at the Donaldson Orlando Community Centre (DOCC) in


He was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected president on 10 May 1994

He was always punctual for meetings

Mandela holds honorary degrees from more than 50 universities around the world

66 streets; 36 buildings (including halls); 21 stadiums, gardens, squares and parks; 26 schools and educations

institutions around the world have been named after Mandela. These include the Nelson Mandela Ornamental Garden

in Yorkshire, UK; Nelson Mandela Platz in Germany; and the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality in the Eastern Cape

He hated working with bureaucracies and disliked paperwork

He was a very simple and gentle man (Graca observed)

He always resented being patronised and was most upset when he felt his dignity was offended

At 76, when he became president, his doctors agreed that his vitality and energy were like those of a man twenty years


According to Graca Mache, Mandela could love very deeply and did well to conceal his emotions in public

Mandela married Graca on 18 July 1998, on his 80th birthday

Bishop Mvume Dandala (former COPE parliamentary leader) married them

He often said disputes must be settled with brains, not blood

He liked to say: ‘I’m no angel’

An entire family of sea slugs, Mandeliidae, has been named after Mandela by two US marine biologists, including the species Mandelia mrocornata, which live only in the waters around the Cape Peninsula

A type of tree in Colombia; an orchid in Singapore and a type of tea in the US were named in Mandela’s honour

Two types of spider, including a trapdoor spider called Stasimopus mandelai, also bear the name

An elusive, fundamental particle of the atom was called ‘Mandela Particle’ by physicists who discovered it at Leeds


A Venezuelan music group calls itself Danzas Mandela

A bar in Bristol, UK, a café in Copenhagen, Sweden, and a bistro in Brooklyn, New York in the US, have all been named

after Mandela

He was totally committed to democracy

He first ate a buttered scone at Clarkebury in 1934 – Mrs. Harris, the wife of the headmaster there, had made it

He underwent ulwaluko in 1935 at age 16

He is 1,94 metres tall

Mandela was inaugurated as President of South Africa on 10 May 1994

In 1994 the South African Post Office honoured him by issuing a special stamp to mark Mandela’s presidential

inauguration. This stamp remains the best-selling item in Post Office history

Soon after he took office, Afrikaner secretaries and servants became loyal to him as he also made a point to remember

their names and also their families

At his residence in Pretoria, Mandela amazed the staff and servants by shaking hands and chatting with all of them,

including the gardeners

De Klerk noted that Mandela had a special ability to make every person who came in contact with him feel special

Mandela also became friendly with his Afrikaner bodyguards and they in turn became loyal to him

He often got up at 4:30 and made his own bed. He walked around the grounds before breakfast

His physique and stamina amazed doctors who always urged him to slow down

He had a problem with his eyes, which an eye operation in 1994 did not cure. Photographers were forbidden to use

flashlight when photographing

In March 1995 he received Queen Elizabeth II

He felt more pain from his knee, which had not recovered from his fall on Robben Island. Eventually he could not walk

upstairs without help

As president he would greet visitors by springing up from his armchair or from behind his desk, looking them in the eye,

remembering where they came from, recalling mutual friends

His style was always homely and earthy. He had an open smile

He made dramatic entrance, often already welcoming a guest as he walked into the room, creating immediate rapport

He never seemed to lose his courtesy or self discipline. But despite courtesies, his secretaries knew that he could be

moody and dejected

One sculptor who had portrayed many world leaders spent hours watching Mandela’s expression. He found him

uniquely charismatic, but also uniquely hard to represent: in company he lit up with every visitor, but by himself he

would suddenly look exhausted

His personal feelings seemed to have been subsumed by his political life and he related to people more closely

He loved long-distance telephone calls and would often surprise friends, sometimes waking them up early in the morning

In 1995 Mandela began formal divorce proceedings from Winnie

His house in Qunu was built

In March 1996 he appeared in the Rand Supreme Court, to plead for his divorce. This was a rare public display of his

painful private live at the time. He said he had delayed the divorce because he didn’t want it linked to the Stompie

Seipei murder

He described his misery when Winnie would not share his bedroom while he was a awake. He declared he was the

loneliest man

He spent his weekends with un-political people and relished the undemanding company of show-business people

His home in Qunus modeled on the prison-house (at Victor Verster) where he spent his last year in jail. The house,

however, gives no hint of prison

About this home in Qunu Mandela said: “This is really home, where my roots are… It becomes more important, the

older you get, to return to places where you have wonderful recollections

While many of his colleagues worried that Mandela was never left alone, Walter Sisulu noticed that he was most at

ease when surrounded by people

Mandela loved being involved in tribal politics, settling local disputes about chickens or cows

He loved changing clothes and also loved tailored clothing

He could sometimes change sides dramatically: when trade unionists demonstrated angrily outside the President’s

office, in Cape Town he suddenly appeared among them, to the alarm of his cabinet colleagues

Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the Order of Merit, the most coveted British honour. She invited him to make a return

State visit. The Queen had then said to him: ‘You are of course well versed in making history, but I hope that, even for

you, it will be an important milestone’

A cabinet colleague once stated that Mandela, ‘like other great men, he is not afraid of simplicity: he is willing to be

unpretentiously simple, to see beyond the immediate future’

Mandela liked to say: ‘I’m only a country boy’

David Beresford of the guardian said Mandela’s greatness lay not in political or military skills, but in simple identification

with his country: a creating of the collective imagination, an expression of national identity deeply desired in a bitterly

divided country.’

He established the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund due to his love for children

He established the Nelson Mandela Foundation in 1999

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation was established in 2003

In 2007, the Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory and Dialogue to promote Mandela’s legacy was established

In 2007, Mandela announced the formation of the Global Elders – a group comprising former heads of state, Nobel

laureates, leading entrepreneurs and philanthropists who will “contribute their wisdom, independent leadership and

integrity to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems”

In 2008, Mandela was maintained a rating of between 7.2 and 8.2 out of 10 during the entire term of his presidency.

After retiring as president, his popularity continued to grow; and in July 2008 (on his 90th birthday) he scored an average rating of 9.3 out of 10, making him South Africa’s most beloved leader ever

He has received more than 1 115 awards and honours

On 29 August 2007, a statue of Mandela was unveiled in Parliament Square on, following a seven year campaign led by

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London

More than 95 statues, sculptures, artworks and monuments have been given to, or dedicated to Mandela

More than 25 musical and theatre tributes have been referred to Mandela or have been dedicated to him

He has held more than 105 patronages

He has received more than 175 civic honours, freedoms of cities/towns, and honorary citizenships

He has received more than 375 awards

More than 115 honorary degrees have been conferred on him

More than eight student union honours and awards have been made to Mandela

More than 40 sports-related honours and awards have been given to him

More than 15 awards and events have been named after him

More than 19 bursaries, scholarships, and foundations have been named after him

More than 25 schools, universities, and other educational institutions have been named after him

More hand 35 halls, buildings, housing developments, structures have been named after him

More than 85 streets, roads, boulevards, avenues, bridges, highways have been named after him

The new Nelson Mandela R5 coin came into circulation on 18 July 2008 to coincide with the former President’s 90th

birthday – the coin featuring a smiling portrait of Mandela, wearing his signature pattern shirt, crowned the R5 bi-metal

coin which was first issued in 2004

On 15 July 2008 the South African Post Office unveiled unique domestic and small international Nelson Mandela stamps

to mark the former President’s 90th birthday

On 10 November 2009 the United Nations General Assembly declared July 18 “Nelson Mandela International Day” to

mark Mandela’s contribution to peace

In 2009 the former president became the first person to be honoured by football governing body Fifa for the

second time during his lifetime. “It has never happened and I do not think that it will ever happen again,” 2010 local

organising committee CEO Danny Jordaan said.