6 Things To Know About Nelson Mandela

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

In 2013, the world lost an incredible man who united a nation and created groundbreaking change in his country.

It would take years to write about everything that this man did in his life, but here are six things that are interesting to know — and important to never forget — about Nelson Mandela. 

1. His real name was Rolihlahla Mandela meaning "shaking the branch of the tree", aka troublemaker, and he was born on July 18, 1918 in a small village called Mvezo.

2. He was raised amongst the traditions of the Royal Court of the Thembu tribe and was in fact the great-grandson of a Thembu king.

3. After getting expelled from the University College of Fort Hare for leading a student protest, Mandela moved to Johannesburg and started clerking for a lawyer by day while attending classes at the University of Witwatersrand. He was their only black student.

4.  In 1944, he was one of the founders of the ANC's Youth League. The ANC — or African National Congress — was the opposition party to The National Party and until the 1960s had a principle of non-violence. But as The National Party continued to kill members of the ANC, and other citizens at peaceful protests, they created a armed wing called uMkonto weSizwe or "Spear of the Nation". Mandela was appointed commander-in-chief of this wing. He became public enemy No. 1 because of this role, and was sentenced to life in prison in the worst conditions possible. 

5. Mandela spent 27 years, six months and six days in prison for treason against the apartheid regime. Apartheid was implemented by The National Party for 48 years once they won power in 1948, and under this rule, every facet of life was dictated by race laws. 

6. In 1990, at the age of 71, Mandela was released from prison, and in 1994, he became the country's president rewriting laws and creating an environment of acceptance, cohesiveness and equal rights for all. 

His impact on the people of South Africa, and the world, is one that will continue for years to come. 

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