Most of us are familiar with Nelson Mandela’s detention and anti-apartheid work, but here are some things you may not know about this inspiring world leader born on July 18, 1918.
1. Nelson Mandela’s prison number was 46664.
The number indicates that he was the 466th prisoner from 1964. He took the number and made it the name of his HIV / AIDS awareness campaign and the name of a series of charity concerts.
2. Nelson Mandela ran away from home.
Mandela and his cousin Justice ran away from home in 1941 to avoid arranged marriages.
3. Nelson Mandela has overcome many personal tragedies.
He was finally allowed to marry Evelyn Mase out of love in 1
4. Nelson Mandela had his own vacation.
In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly declared July 18, his birthday, as “Mandela Day.” It is a national celebration and recognition of Mandela’s contributions to freedom.
5. Nelson Mandela’s election as South African President breaks new ground.
Mandela’s inauguration as president in 1994 was historic for at least four (and probably many other) reasons. He was South Africa’s first democratically elected president. He was also the country’s first black president and the oldest person elected to office. His inauguration brought together the largest number of heads of state since President John F. Kennedy’s funeral in 1963.
6. Nelson Mandela’s first name wasn’t actually Nelson.
Mandela’s first name was Rolihlahla, which his teachers could not pronounce. One of them named him Nelson after the British Admiral Horatio Nelson, and the name was obviously retained. By the way, Rolihlahla means “pulling the branch of a tree”. ??
7. Nelson Mandela’s fellow citizens gave him an affectionate nickname.
South Africans usually called Mandela “mkhulu” (grandfather) or Madiba, the surname Mandela for a distinguished elder.
8. Nelson Mandela was misquoted.
One of Mandela’s most famous quotes isn’t real. You may have heard it – it is often quoted from his inaugural 1994 speech:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are insufficient. Our deepest fear is that we are immeasurably powerful … When we are freed from our own fear, our presence automatically frees others.”
This is actually a quote from author and spiritual activist Marianne Williamson in her book A return to love. Not only did Mandela not coined the sentence himself, he probably never said it either. “As far as I know, he didn’t use the quote in any of his speeches,” said Razia Saleh, archivist at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, “and we’ve cataloged about 1,000 so far.”
9. Nelson Mandela’s work has been widely recognized.
During his lifetime, Mandela received more than 695 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.
10. Nelson Mandela’s name lives on.
People loved honoring Mandela’s work for freedom and human rights. As if these 695 awards weren’t enough, more than 25 schools, universities and educational institutions were named after him. At least 19 grants and foundations bear the name Nelson Mandela, and more than 95 sculptures, statues or works of art were made or dedicated to him.
This article was updated for 2020.