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Interesting facts about Nelson Mandela

Published:Friday | July 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

* Nelson Mandela's original name was Rolihlahla Mandela. As the first in his family to receive formal education, the name 'Nelson' was given to him by his primary school teacher. Miss Mdingane at the Qunu Primary School did this in accordance with  the custom to give all school children 'Christian' names.

*Mandela was expelled from the University College of Forte Hare, where he was completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts, for joining in a protest (a boycott against university policies) alongside his friend, Oliver Tambo.

*Mandela chose to flee from his guardian, Jongintaba Dalindyebo (King of the Great Place at Mqhekezweni), to Johannesburg in 1991, where he became a night mine security officer, rather than stay at home pending an arranged marriage.

*Days before Mandela's acquittal from the Treason Trial, he was planning a national strike against South Africa becoming a republic to coincide with his release on March 29-31, 1961. This, however, was called off early due to a massive mobilisation of state security.

* Using a fake ID in the name of David Motsamayi, Mandela travelled around Africa to gain military support for the Spear of the Nation in Ethiopia and to receive guerrilla training in Algeria and Morocco. He also travelled to London to visit his friend, Oliver Tambo, who had been exiled there.

* During the Rivania Trial for sabotage, Mandela's famous 'Speech from the Dock' may have saved the lives of his colleagues and himself, as they were facing the possibility of the death sentence for their crimes. They, however, were sentenced to life in prison at Robben Island, except for Denis Goldberg, who was sent to the Pretoria Prison because he was white.

* Mandela spent 27 years in prison, with the latter years spent at Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town, until it was discovered that he had tuberculosis on August 12, 1988. Afterwards, he spent the remaining 14 months of his imprisonment at Victor Verster Prison near Paarl.

* Oliver Tambo started a 'Free Nelson Mandela' campaign in 1980, which fuelled the international recognition of South Africa's racist regime, and stirred the South African Government to offer Nelson Mandela conditional release for political compromises. Nelson Mandela, however, turned down these offers, because he wouldn't compromise his beliefs.

* Mandela was elected leader of the African National Congress ? ANC (which he had helped found its youth league), taking over from the ailing Oliver Tambo. He then used his role to hold negotiations for the end of apartheid and the establishment of a multiracial government. These talks would eventually earn Nelson the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1993.

* Mandela voted for the first time in his life on April 27, 1994 at the age of 75. On May 10, 1994, due to an overwhelming show of support, he was sworn in as South Africa's first black president.