Nelson Mandela Biography
Nelson Mandela (Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela) was a South African apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist popular for being the first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. He was born on 18th July 1918 in Mvezo, South Africa.
Nelson Mandela Childhood
When Nelson Mandela was born he was given the he forename Rolihlahla, a Xhosa term colloquially meaning “troublemaker”. In later years he became known by his clan name, Madiba.
Nelson Mandela came from a Royal family as his patrilineal great-grandfather, Ngubengcuka, was king of the Thembu people in the Transkeian Territories of South Africa’s modern Eastern Cape province.
His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, was a local chief and councillor to the monarch; he was appointed to the position in 1915. His mother, Nosekeni Fanny was the third wife of Gadla.
At the age of seven years, his mother sent him to a Methodist school where he was given English forename of ‘Nelson’ by his teacher.
After the death of his father his mother took him to the “Great Place” palace at Mqhekezweni, where he was entrusted to the guardianship of the Thembu regent, Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo.
Nelson Mandela Education
- He attended a Methodist mission school where he studied English, Xhosa, history and geography.
- In 1933 he began his secondary education at Clarkebury Methodist High School, Engcobo, a Western-style institution that was the largest school for black Africans in Thembuland.
- In 1937 he moved to Healdtown, the Methodist college in Fort Beaufort.
- In 1939 he joined the University of Fort Hare for a BA degree where he studied English, anthropology, politics, native administration, and Roman Dutch law in his first year.
- He did not complete his degree as he was temporarily suspended from the university due to his involvement in a Students’ Representative Council (SRC) boycott against the quality of food.
Nelson Mandela Political Career
In 1944, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) was founded and Mandela became a member of its executive committee. In 1947, Nelson Mandela was appointed as the secretary of ANCYL. He was also elected to the executive committee of the ANC’s Transvaal Province branch.
In 1950, Nelson Mandela became the ANC national executive and was elected national president of the ANCYL. In 1952, after the banning of Transvaal ANC President J. B. Marks from making public appearances he was elected regional president in October.
In December 1952, he was given a six-month ban from attending meetings or talking to more than one individual at a time, making his Transvaal ANC presidency impractical.
In 1961, together with Sisulu and Slovo they co founded Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”, abbreviated as MK). Becoming chairman of the militant group, Mandela gained ideas from literature on guerilla warfare by Marxist militants Mao and Che Guevara as well as from the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz.
MK planned to carry out acts of sabotage that would exert maximum pressure on the government with minimum casualties; they sought to bomb military installations, power plants, telephone lines, and transport links at night, when civilians were not present. Nelson Mandela stated that they chose sabotage because it was the least harmful action, did not involve killing, and offered the best hope for racial reconciliation afterwards.
In February 1962, he was sent by ANC to the meeting of the Pan-African Freedom Movement for East, Central and Southern Africa (PAFMECSA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
After the symposium, Nelson Mandela travelled to Cairo, Egypt, admiring the political reforms of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, and then went to Tunis, Tunisia, where President Habib Bourguiba gave him £5,000 for weaponry.
He proceeded to Morocco, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Senegal, receiving funds from Liberian President William Tubman and Guinean President Ahmed Sékou Touré. Leaving Africa for London, England, he met anti-apartheid activists, reporters, and prominent politicians. Returning to Ethiopia, he began a six-month course in guerrilla warfare, but completed only two months before being recalled to South Africa by the ANC’s leadership.
Career as a Lawyer
In April 1952, Nelson Mandela began working at the H.M. Basner law firm. In August 1953, he together with Tambo opened their own law firm, Mandela and Tambo, operating in downtown Johannesburg.
The only African-run law firm in the country, it was popular with aggrieved blacks, often dealing with cases of police brutality. Disliked by the authorities, the firm was forced to relocate to a remote location after their office permit was removed under the Group Areas Act; as a result, their clientele dwindled.
Nelson Mandela Arrest
On 22nd June 1952, Nelson Mandela addressed an assembled crowd of 10,000 and was arrested and briefly interned in Marshall Square prison.
In July 1952, he was arrested under the Suppression of Communism Act and stood trial as one of the 21 accused.Their sentence of nine months’ hard labour was suspended for two years.
In December 1956, Nelson Mandela was arrested alongside most of the ANC national executive, and accused of “high treason” against the state.On 29 March 1961, six years after the Treason Trial began, the judges produced a verdict of not guilty, ruling that there was insufficient evidence to convict the accused of “high treason”, since they had advocated neither communism nor violent revolution.
On 5th August 1962, Nelson Mandela was captured and was jailed in Johannesburg’s Marshall Square prison, Mandela was charged with inciting workers’ strikes and leaving the country without permission. He was found guilty and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
In July 1963, as the police raided Lilies leaf Farm they arrested those they found and uncovered paperwork documenting MK’s activities, some of which mentioned Mandela. On 12 June 1964, justice De Wet found Mandela and two of his co-accused guilty on all four charges; although the prosecution had called for the death sentence to be applied, the judge instead condemned them to life imprisonment.
In 1990, all the formerly banned political parties were legalized and Nelson Mandela was released from prison. In 1994 he was elected as the first black South African president a position he held until 1999.
In December 1997, he stepped down as ANC President.In June 1999 he retired from politics. In June 2004 at the age of 85 he announced that he was “retiring from retirement”.
Nelson Mandela Wives
In October 1944, he married Evelyn Mase, a trainee nurse and ANC activist from Engcobo. In February 1945, they had their first child, Madiba ‘ Thembi’ Thembekile. In 1947, they had a daughter Makaziwe who died nine months later due to meningitis. They divorced in January 1958.
In June 1958, he married Winnie Madikizela and they had two children Zenani, born in February 1959, and Zindziswa, born in December 1960. They later divorced in 1995.
In 1998, during his 80th birthday he married his third wife Graca Machel.
Nelson Mandela Children
Makaziwe Mandela, Zindzi Mandela, Zenani Mandela, Makgatho Mandela, Madiba Thembekile Mandela, Makaziwe Mandela Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela Illness and Death
In 2011 he was briefly hospitalized with a respiratory infection. In December 2012, he was re-admitted for a lung infection and gallstone removal. In March 2013, he was briefly hospitalized in Pretoria due to lung infection. In June 2013 his lung infection worsened and he was readmitted to a Pretoria hospital in serious condition.
On 5th December 2013, he died due to the pro longed respiratory infection. On 15th December a state funeral was held in Qunu.
Nelson Mandela Foundation
The Nelson Mandela Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by Nelson Mandela in 1999 to promote Mandela’s vision of freedom and equality for all. The chairman is professor Njabulo Ndebele of the University of Cape Town