Nelson Mandela Biography – Children, Wife & Death Of The Freedom Icon

There are several resources documenting the life and times of Mr. Nelson Mandela which can be found in an extraordinary range of locations, both locally within South Africa and internationally. In this brief article, we’re going to share with you, Nelson Mandela Biography – the life and times of Nelson Mandela, the legacy he left, the events and the people he influenced or was influenced by – all in memory of this great hero.

Nelson Mandela Biography

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in Mvezo, Transkei, on July 18, 1918, to Nonqaphi Nosekeni and Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. It was during his primary school days in Qunu that his teacher Miss Mdingane gave him the name Nelson, which was in accordance with the custom to give all school children “Christian” names existing at that time. Mandela completed his Junior Certificate at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and later went on to attend Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some repute

He began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. He admitted that he was a poor student and left the university in 1948 without graduating. He only started studying again through the University of London and also did not complete that degree. It wasn’t until 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, that he obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa.

Although Nelson Mandela, was increasingly politically involved from 1942, he only joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped form the ANC Youth League.

On 5 December 1955, Nelson Mandela was arrested in a countrywide police swoop of 156 activists which led to the 1956 Treason Trial, he was eventually acquitted but on 21 March 1960 police killed 69 unarmed people in a protest at Sharpeville against the pass laws and Nelson Mandela together with his colleagues in the Treason Trial were among the thousands detained during the state of emergency.

Recommended Reading: 7 Key Lessons from the Life of Nelson Mandela

In October 1963 Nelson Mandela together with nine others went on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. While facing the death penalty, he made a famous ‘Speech from the Dock’ on 20 April 1964, a speech that will always be remembered

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

On 11 June 1964 Nelson Mandela and seven others accused Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.  The next day. Denis Goldberg was sent to Pretoria Prison because he was white while the rest were sent to Robben Island. His mother died in 1968 and his eldest son Thembi died in 1969 but he was not allowed to attend their funerals.

On 10 May 1994 following talks to end white minority rule and in 1991 after he was elected ANC President, Nelson Mandela was inaugurated South Africa’s first democratically elected President.

Mr Mandela never wavered in his commitment to democracy, equality, fairness, justice, peace and learning. Even though he was provoked terribly, he never replied to racism with racism. Nelson Mandela’s life is an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived and opposed, Nelson Mandela died on Thursday, 5th December 2013 but his memory still lives on and will always be remembered.

Mandela’s Wife And Children

The renown freedom fighter has three wives. Although he escaped an arranged marriage during his teenage year, which could have been his first, Mandela’s first marriage was in 1958, with Evelyn Mase, a nurse from the rural Transkei whom he met in the 1940s and married her at the Native Commissioner’s Court in Soweto.

Recommended Reading: Why Nelson Mandela Was Called Madiba

The couple lived together since their marriage in 1944 and had four children including two sons, Madiba “Thembi” Thembekile (1946-1969) and Makgatho Mandela (1950-2005), and two daughters both named Makaziwe Mandela (known as Maki; born 1947 and 1953). Evely was highly praised by her fellow women in Soweto as one who has been supportive of her husband who was busy with his law practices and political meetings. Things however changed as Mandela became more involved in politics and Evely found more pleasure in her religion as a Jehovah’s witness. In 1958, they divorced with Everly accusing Mandela of adultery.

Mandela went on to marry his second wife Winnie Mandela in 1958, the same year he got separated from his first wife. Formerly Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela, Winne was an ardent South African activist and politician who like Mandela, shook the apartheid government with her speeches and activities. She was also Johannesburg’s first black social worker.

After tying the knot in June 1958, Winnie lived and remained supportive of her husband even through the start of his second treason trial, which would see him jailed for 27 years. She also had her hard times as the South African government regularly detained tortured and subjected her to house arrest following her anti-apartheid activities. The couple had two daughters, Ezinhle ROOI (born 1959) and Zindzi (born 1960).

In 1992, two years after Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, Winne filed for a divorce leading to the official end of their marriage. The divorce papers were finalised in 1996 with an unspecified out-of-court settlement.

In 1998, Mandela married his third wife Graça Machel during his 80th birthday. She was the widow of Samora Machel, the former Mozambican president and had studied in Lisbon before she became a freedom fighter for Samora Machel’s Frelimo movement.

Mandela who was 27 years older than Winnie met her in 1986 in Mozambique after her husband died in an air crash allegedly orchestrated by the apartheid regime. From then, Mandela continued to write her letters from the prison and in 1998, During Mandela’s birthday, Machel revealed that she was ready to be with Mandela as his wife.

Recommended Reading: Top 25 Nelson Mandela Quotes

Machel confessed that she had earlier vowed not to be married again but Mandela had made her change her mind. Confirming that they had a good time together as husband and wife, Mandela, in his book, Mandela: The Authorised Biography said: “I don’t regret the reverses and setbacks because late in my life I am blooming like a flower, because of the love and support she has given me.”

Nelson Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as President just exactly as he promised. He died on December 5, 2013, leaving behind his six children, 17 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.

Nelson Mandela Height

Nelson Mandela height was 72 inches tall (182.9 cm). He is 12 centimetres (4.75 inches) taller than the average celebrity (the average is 171 centimetres, 5 feet 7 inches or 67 inches tall).

Interesting Facts About Nelson Mandela

1. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela spent almost 3 decades in prison.

2. The anti-apartheid activist studied and graduated in law at the University of Witwatersrand even while at the prison and he became one of South Africa’s first black lawyers.

3. All through his years, Mandela was dedicated to politics, achieving freedom for the oppressed people and destroying the Apartheid government in the country.

4. Mandela’s courtroom speech about being prepared to die helped earned him his freedom during his trail which was meant to earn him a life imprisonment.

5. In the 1950s, he was elected leader of the youth wing of the African National Congress (ANC) liberation movement.

6. He was elected South Africa’s first President in 1994 after the demise of the apartheid era.

7. Mandela is known by different names. South Africans commonly call hin Madiba and Mkhulu. Madiba is the name of his clan. Mkhulu means grandfather in their language.

8. In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly declared July 18 as “Mandela Day.” It’s a national celebration and recognition of Mandela’s contributions to freedom.

9. Once he was finished with his presidency, he became an advocate in support of people suffering from AIDS.

10. He has honorary degrees from more than 50 universities worldwide.

Emeka Chigozie
Emeka Chigozie
Emeka has a keen interest in tech, entertainment, and politics. He likes to stay up to date with global news when he is not thinking about future trends in tech.


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