Nelson Mandela – Gandhi of South Africa

Nelson Mandela – Gandhi of South Africa

The day of July 18 is very important in the history of apartheid. Nelson Mandela, who waged a war against apartheid, was born on July 18, 1918. In his memory, this day is celebrated as Nelson Mandela Day. Mandela was a great follower of Mahatma Gandhi, who said goodbye to this world on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95. He emphasized non-violence in his movement against apartheid following the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. On this occasion, it becomes important to know some unheard things about ‘Gandhi’ of South Africa i.e. Nelson Mandela …

Original name

Mandela’s birth name was Rolishlahla Mandela. During school days, a teacher added Nelson to his name. He has since become Nelson Holisaja Mandela.

Father died turning point

Mandela’s father died of lung cancer. He was the turning point in Mandela’s life. At that time Mandela was 9 years old. After the father’s death, he was adopted by Jombintaba Jelinzayebo, the head of the Thembu community. Mandela left his small village and moved to the royal house of Thembu chief in Thembuland. He got an opportunity to study at institutions like Clarkbury Boarding Institute and Vejlian College. Mandela was the first member of his family to attend school. He not only did very well in studies but also proved to be a good boxer and track runner.

Expelled from college

Mandela was pursuing a Bachelor of Arts from University College of Fort Hare. He was vocal about student rights and used to take part in such activities. Because of this, he was expelled from the university. When the Thembu Chief got this news, he was very angry. He condemned Mandela and asked him to return to school. Thembu chief also threatened to get Mandela married. Fearing marriage, Mandela sang with his cousin in Johannesburg and studied there.

Two family members died during jail

When Mandela was in jail, two of his family members died. His mother died in 1968. His elder son Thembi died the following year. Mandela was not allowed to attend his family’s funeral.

Mandela’s three marriages

He was first married in 1944 to a nurse named Evelyn Mess. He had two sons and two daughters to Mandela. A daughter died as soon as she was born. Mandela and Mess separated in 1955. They were formally divorced three years later. In 1958, Mandela was married to social worker Winnie Medicizela. Mandela had two daughters from Winnie. Mandela also divorced from Winnie six years after he was released from prison. In 1998, he married Grace Maisel. It was his last marriage to Grace Maisel. Grace Maisel was previously married to Samora Maisel, President of Mozambique.


Mandela remained in jail from 1962 to 1990. During this time he secretly wrote his biography. His biography written in prison was published as a book in 1994. The book was titled ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.

Turned down offer to release from jail

Mandela allegedly received an offer to release him from jail at least three times. But each time he turned down the offer. The condition of his release from jail was not acceptable to him. According to the stipulation, they had to declare their earlier activities wrong.

First elected in 1994

On 10 May 1994, Mandela was elected the first black president of South Africa. He was 77 years old at the time.

Campaign against AIDS too

He not only waged a war against apartheid but also played an important role in creating awareness against AIDS. One of Mandela’s own sons died in 2005 of AIDS.

Mandela Day on 18 July

Celebrating Mandela Day in South Africa began on 18 July, four years before Mandela’s death. On this occasion, the people of South Africa carried out large-scale social activities. He worked for world peace.


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