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A photograph of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela Facts

Image Credit: Alessia Pierdomenico /
  • Nelson Mandela was originally called Rolihlahla Mandela.
  • Mandela was the first in his family to attend school.
  • Nelson Mandela worked as a guard at a mine as one of his first jobs.
  • During Mandela's incarceration on Robben Island he contracted tuberculosis and being a black political prisioner he received the lowest lovel of treatment from the prision workers.
  • Mandela wrote most of his autobiography secretly in prison, Long Walk to Freedom, which was published in 1994.
  • Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country's first black president on May 10, 1994, at the age of 77, with de Klerk as his first deputy.
  • Nelson Mandela was married three times, he fathered six children, had twenty grandchildren, and now a growing number of great-grandchildren.
  • Mandela always remained committed to the fight against AIDS, a disease that killed his son, Makgatho, in 2005.
  • Nelson Mandela shared the Peace Prize with Frederik Willem de Klerk, the man who had released him, President, because they had agreed on a peaceful transition to majority rule.
  • In 2004, Mandela announced his retirement from public life, although his charitable work continued.
  • In 2009, Mandela's birthday (July 18) was declared Mandela Day, an international day to promote global peace and celebrate the South African leader's legacy.
  • Mandela's favourite food was the meat of a freshly slaughtered sheep, watered down with a bowl of Amarhewu. Amarhewu is a traditional fermented mielie meal drink with a texture somewhere between beer and porridge and a sour taste.
  • On 29 August 2007, a permanent statue to him was unveiled in Parliament Square, London.
  • The cookbook, Ukutya Kwasekhaya (home cooking) – Tastes from Nelson Mandela's Kitchen, is a collection of 62 recipes with short family anecdotes about the hero.