Nelson Mandela International Day: 11 Nelson Mandela’s Life Instances you must know 

Nelson Mandela has been a leader of an equal, peaceful society. Surely, his active participation contributed to the glory of South Africa. 

While the stories of his victories echo throughout the world. Various aspects of his life, the ups and downs are camouflaged and less heard.

This article brings you closer to his journey with facts you have probably never heard.

Nelson Mandela’s Real Name? 

Rolihlahla Mandela is the actual name of Nelson Mandela. Nelson was the name given by his teacher in his Primary School.

‘Nelson’, the name came out as an obligatory custom to give Christian names to the kids in the school.

David Motsamayi: Nelson Mandela’s Adopted Name 

In 1962, he adopted a new name- David Motsamayi. To leave the country and gain support for his protests. He visited parts of Africa and went to England. 

Also, he received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia.

After he visited countries, he was welcomed back with charges of leaving the country without permission and inciting worker’s protests. 

As A Result, he was arrested on 5 August after his return. 

Nelson Mandela’s Early life: Job, Education and Father’s Demise 

In 1930 his father died. He was 12 at that time. Following his father’s death, he became a ward at Great Place in Mqhekezweni.

His father was the principal counsellor of the King of the Thembu people.

After his secondary education, he enrolled for the Bachelor of Arts in the University College of Fort Hare.

However, he was expelled from his college. His expulsion was a result of his participation in students’ protest.

Finally, In 1943 he graduated from the University of South Africa. He even returned to Fort Hare. 

Simultaneously, he prepared for LLB from the University of Witwatersrand. 

While that even came to an end in 1952.

Later, he returned to the Great Place. Wherein the King was furious at him and warned him to return to Fort Hare.

Else, he threatened that he will arrange wives for him and his cousin. 

Not so Surprisingly, he ran away with his cousin to Johannesburg.

Reaching there in 1941, he worked there as a Mine Security officer. 

There, he met Walter Sislu and Lazer Sidelsky.

He even began writing articles with a few attorneys.

Nelson Mandela married 3 women.
Nelson Mandela Family

His Married Life 

Mr. Nelson married 3 women in his entire life.


In 1944, he got married to his first wife: Evelyn Mase. She was a nurse and cousin of Walter Sislu.

With her first wife, he had 4 children- Two sons and two daughters. 

He named his sons Thembi and Makgatho respectively. While his two daughters were named Makaziwe. 

Unfortunately, one of the two daughters died during infancy.  

In 1958, divorce brought their marriage to an end. 


On 14 June 1958, He married a social worker, Winnie Madikizela. This was when he was undergoing trials after he was arrested in a mass countrywide arrest. 

They gave birth to two daughters, namely- Zenani and Zindziswa.

In 1996, they divorced. 


On his 80th birthday, he married his third wife, Graça Machel.

It was after he became the first democratically elected President of South Africa. 

His political life 

While the traces of his entry into politics can be witnessed between 1942-1944. 

Officially it began when he joined African National Congress in 1944.

Additionally, he helped to form the ANC Youth League.

In 1952, he was elected as the National In-Chief Volunteer with Maulvi Cachalia. 

Maulvi Cachalia worked as his deputy. This was for the Defiance Campaign which was the struggle against the 6 unjust laws. 

It was a joint program led by the South African Indian Congress and ANC.

Later, he was arrested and charged along with his 19 acquaintances.

He faced such charges during various revolutionary protests.

A turning point came when 69 people were killed and states of emergency-like situations occurred.

Further, APC and PAN African Congress were banned. 

He underwent trials. Yet, he was released in 1961. 

Later that year, he attended the All in Africa Conference. 

Besides, he wrote to the Prime Minister on how a non-racial convention must be established. 

June 1961, he was also asked to lead the establishment of Spear of the Nation

(Umkhonto weSizwe).

In 1994, he successfully became the first democratically elected President of South Africa. 

Yet, a lot happened between 1963- 1994 which is a story during his sentence to life imprisonment. 

Life Imprisonment

During his years of sentence, he refused 3 conditional release offers. 

He couldn’t grieve on it peacefully.

Nelson was charged for leaving the country without a permit and inciting protests. He stayed in the Pretoria Jail. It was 5 years of imprisonment. For a while, he was transferred to Robben Island. 

His comrades were even arrested from a hideout in Rivonia. 

In 1963, he joined his other 7 members who faced the Rivonia Trial for Sabotaging. 

Resulting in 1964, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. It was during this hearing he gave his infamous speech: ” Speech from the Dorm”.

Concluding, he was sent to prison along with his comrades. 

Why couldn’t Nelson attend his mother’s and son’s funeral? 

Nelson Mandela’s mother passed away in 1968. Later, in 1969, his son from his wife, Thembi passed away. It was when he was behind the bars for life imprisonment.

He wasn’t allowed to attend both the funerals 


Sadly, the righteous leader who fought for society and its people couldn’t meet his family during their last rituals.

Nonetheless, his firm beliefs of the equal world never shook during these hard times. 

Tuberculosis and his Release 

On 12 August 1988, Mandela was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. After spending 3 months in 2 hospitals he was transferred to a house at Victor Verster Prison.

He lived there for 14 months before his release after his life imprisonment sentence. Finally, the imprisonment was over. 

On 11 February 1990, he was liberated from prison. Also, APC and PAN were relieved from the ban. Fortunately, his other acquaintances were also released months later. 

Consistent with his beliefs he once again began talks to rule out white minority rule.

President and Nobel Peace Prize 

In 1991, He replaced his friend and alliance Oliver Tambo and became the president of ANC.


He won the Nobel Peace Prize. President FW de Klerk also won the Nobel Peace Prize. 


Finally, he became the first democratically elected President of South Africa. 

Above all, he promised to operate as the President for one term and later resign and contribute to his social works. 

As promised, he stepped down as President in 1999.

Social Work and Foundations 

He established Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in 1995. He continued his social contributions while being the president.

Later, he even established Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

As a true leader for society, he worked for society in every means possible.

2013: Nelson Mandela’s Demise 

Living for the society, he brought in many changes that still spread the messages of equality. 

He passed away in 2013 at his home in Johannesburg.

His work and his sayings are enlightening for society.

They must be understood, appreciated, and spread to future generations. 

Indeed, to remember him, 18 July is observed as Nelson Mandela International Day.

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Mansi Goel

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