15 Things You Did Not Know About Nelson Mandela

[HipHopWired] The passing of iconic South African anti-apartheid activist and revolutionary leader Nelson Mandela has shaken the entire globe.

Living until the age of 95, Mandela’s long life has been peppered with some tragedies and yet, plenty of notable triumphs.

Despite the racist oppression Mandela and many Black South Africans faced at the hands of the majority-ruling whites, the activist would rise to become the nation’s first Black president in 1994 and a staunch advocate for AIDS research.

Hip-HopWired takes a look at 15 facts some may not know about the late, great Nelson Mandela.

1.) Mandela Was Born Of Royalty

Mandela’s paternal grandfather was king of the Thembu tribe, as part of a larger clan of kings.

2.) Mandela Was Also Known As Madiba

Madiba is the name of the Thembu clan to which Mandela belonged. It is also the clan name for kings, so it was considered a high honor for him to bear the name.


3.) Mandela Was Part Of The Umkhonto we Sizwe Armed Anti-Government Fighters

Although Mandela is largely seen as a peacekeeping humanitarian, he once belonged to the armed faction of the African National Congress (ANC) as part of the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) or “Spear Of The Nation.”

4.)Nelson Mandela’s Birthday Recognized Globally

As Day Of Service In 2009 In 2009, the United Nations enacted the first “Nelson Mandela International Day” on the leader’s birthday on July 18. Observers of the day participate in varying levels of community service.

5.)Mandela Served 27 Years In Prison After Initially Charged To Serve Only Five

Because of his connections with MK faction of the ANC, Mandela was viewed as a terrorist by the South African regime. After initially being charged to serve five years for organizing a worker’s strike. The government reportedly learned of a bombing plot, and kept him behind bars for 27 grueling years.

6.)Mandela Was Given The Name Nelson At Age 7

Mandela was born Rolihlahla which means to “pull a tree” or “troublemaker,” and was given the Western name Nelson by a schoolteacher. At age 16 after an initiation, he was then called Dalibunga, although some sources say that was the name of the ritual.


7.)Mandela Was Prisoner #46664

Mandela arrived at the notorious Robben Island Prison in 1964 as its 466th prisoner, hence the number.

8.)Mandela’s First Night Of Freedom Was Spent At Bishop Desmond Tutu’s House

On February 11, 1990, Mandela would be freed from prison and was said to have eaten a big dinner at Bishop Desmond Tutu’s home.

9.) Mandela Was Also Known As The “ Black Pimpernel”

South African authorities dubbed Mandela the “Black Pimpernel” because of his talent for evading arrest; A pimpernel is a type of small flower. He often disguised himself as a gardener or chef.

10.)Mandela Was A Foodie

Many reports of Mandela speak about his love of food and eating. As a prisoner, he was allowed to tend a small garden and enjoyed sharing his wares with others. It was also said Mandela loved learning about other cultures by way of their cuisine.


11.)Mandela Used Sports To Join Nation

As shown in the Morgan Freeman-led film Invictus, Mandela seized a moment during the 1995 Rugby World Cup to join the racially divided nation and begin the healing.

12.)Mandela’s Lockdown

As a prisoner, Mandela was only allowed one visitor per year, for just a scant half hour. He could only send and receive one letter every six months.


13.) Stevie Wonder’s Music Was Banned In South Africa After Dedicating Oscar Win To Mandela

In 1985 when Stevie Wonder was accepting his Oscar award for Best Original Song, “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” he dedicated the win to Mandela. In response, South African banned Wonder’s songs from the radio.

14.)Mandela Was Once On Trial For Treason Over Five Years

During the first of trials, Mandela faced the courts between 1956 and 1961 before being found not guilty.

15.)Mandela Has Won Over 250 Awards And Has Dozens Of Honorary Degrees

Mandela has won a bevy of awards over the course of his life, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Soviet Order of Lenin and the Nobel Peace Prize. Several schools, such as Cambridge, Harvard, and the London School of Economics, have given degrees to the late lawyer and scholar.