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Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela, 1st President of a democratic South Africa, Nobel Laureate

Also Known As: "Madiba; Tata"
Birthplace: Mveso, Transkei, South Africa
Death: Died in Houghton, Gauteng, South Africa
Place of Burial: Transkei District, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Son of Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa Mandela, Chief and Nosekeni Nonqaphi Fanny, Right Hand Wife
Husband of <private> Machel (Simbine)
Ex-husband of Evelyn Ntoko Rakeepile and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
Father of Madiba (Thembi) Thembekile Mandela; Makaziwe Mandela; Makgatho Lewanika Mandela; <private> Mandela; <private> Dlamini (Mandela) and 1 other
Brother of Mabel Notancu Timakwe and Constance Mbekeni Mandela
Half brother of Leabie Philiso Mandela; Nokuthamba Bhulehluthi; <private> Mandela; <private> Mandela; <private> Mandela and 2 others

Occupation: President of South Africa
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Nelson Mandela

Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela (fondly known by his amaXhosa clan name, ‘Madiba’), served 27 years in an Apartheid Prison on Robben Island, emerging to become South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994

  • 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 will live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realised. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

..Nelson Mandela, defence statement during the Rivonia Trial, 1964. Also repeated during the closing of his speech delivered in Cape Town on the day he was released from prison 27 years later, on 11 February 1990.

  • We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without and fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.

..Nelson Mandela, Inaugural Address, Pretoria 9 May 1994.


  • July 18, 1918 Birth in Mveso Transkei
  • 1920 Family moves to Qunu village, Umtata
  • 1926 Starts elementary school; given the name “Nelson” by teacher
  • 1927 Death of father; Mandela moves to royal court of Thembu Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo at Mqhekezweni
  • 1934 Initiation
  • 1935 Starts secondary education at Clarkebury school
  • 1937 Higher schooling at Healdtown prep school
  • 1939 Studies at University College of Fort Hare
  • November 1940 Is forced to leave Fort Hare after student protests
  • April 1941 Leaves for Johannesburg to avoid arranged marriage
  • 1941 Works in Johannesburg; lives in Alexandra; meets Walter Sisulu
  • 1942 Makes contact with the African National Congress (ANC)
  • December 1942 Receives Bachelor of Arts degree from Fort Hare
  • 1943 Begins legal studies; joins Alexandra bus boycott
  • 1944 Marries Evelyn Ntoko Mase
  • April 1944 Congress Youth League is formed; Mandela is a founder
  • August 1946 African mine workers’ strike
  • 1946 A son Madiba Thembekile (Thembi) is born
  • 1947 Elected to Transvaal ANC executive committee
  • 1947 Daughter Makaziwe is born
  • 1948 National Party government elected and starts to implement apartheid
  • 1948 Daughter Makaziwe dies at 9 months old
  • 1949 ANC adopts Program of Action
  • June 26 1950 A son, Makgatho Lewanika is born
  • 1950 Joins ANC National Executive
  • 1951 Elected Youth League president
  • 1952 Defiance Campaign; Mandela arrested, then banned; becomes president of Transvaal ANC, deputy president of ANC; qualifies as attorney
  • 1953 Opposes Sophiatown forced removals; opens legal practice
  • 1954 Daughter Pumla Makaziwe Mandela is born
  • 1955 Congress of the People adopts the Freedom Charter
  • December 5, 1956 Charged with treason
  • January 1957 Evelyn and Mandela separate
  • February 4 1958 Daughter, Zenani (Zeni) born
  • March 19 1958 Divorces Evelyn Ntoko Mase
  • June 14, 1958 Marries Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela
  • 1960 A daughter, Zinziswa (Zindzi) is born
  • March 21, 1960 Sharpeville Massacre of 69 Africans by police
  • April 8, 1960 ANC and Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) banned
  • March 29, 1961 Mandela and others accused of treason acquitted
  • May 1961 Organizes “stay-at-home” protests
  • December 16, 1961 Launches sabotage campaign
  • January–July 1962 Travels widely in Africa and to England to gain support
  • August 5, 1962 Arrested inside South Africa
  • November 1962 Sentenced to three years prison
  • 1963–1964 Rivonia Trial
  • April 20, 1964 Delivers famous speech from the dock
  • June 12, 1964 Sentenced to life imprisonment; sent to Robben Island
  • 1968 Death of mother
  • 1969 Death of son Thembi in a car accident. Refused permission to attend the funeral.
  • 1969 Winnie Mandela held in prison for 491 days
  • 1976 Refuses conditional release
  • June 16, 1976 Student protests in Soweto; countrywide revolt develops
  • May 17, 1977 Winnie Mandela banished to rural town of Brandfort
  • March 31, 1982 Transferred to Pollsmoor Prison
  • August 20, 1983 United Democratic Front (UDF) formed
  • January 1984 Refuses conditional release, and daughter, Zindzi reads his defiant response at rally; allowed first face to face contact visit with Winnie
  • 1985 State of emergency; initiates secret talks with government
  • May 1986 Meets Commonwealth Eminent Persons’ Group
  • October 2, 1986 U.S. Congress passes Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act
  • 1987–1988 Meetings with government representatives
  • December 9, 1988 Transferred to Victor Verster Prison
  • August 14, 1989 F. W. de Klerk succeeds P. W. Botha as state president
  • February 2, 1990 F. W. de Klerk lifts ban on ANC
  • February 11, 1990 Released from prison after 27 years
  • March 2, 1990 Reappointed ANC deputy president
  • March 1990 Visits Zambia and Sweden to meet ANC’s exiled leadership
  • May–August 1990 ANC–government talks lead to suspension of armed struggle and release of some political prisoners
  • June 1990 Tours Europe, North America, and Africa
  • July 5, 1991 Elected ANC president
  • December 1991 Congress for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) opens
  • April 1992 Separation from Winnie
  • May 1992 ANC withdraws from CODESA after “third force” violence
  • September 1992 Negotiations resume with government
  • April 1993 South African Communist Party (SACP) leader Chris Hani assassinated; Mandela calls for calm
  • December 10, 1993 Receives, with F. W. de Klerk, the Nobel Peace Prize
  • April 26–28, 1994 ANC wins decisive 62.6 percent victory at first democratic elections
  • May 10, 1994 Mandela inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president
  • December 1994 Autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, launched
  • December 1995 Truth and Reconciliation Commission appointed 1996 New constitution adopted
  • March 1996 Divorces Winnie
  • July 18, 1998 Marries Graça Machel
  • June 2, 1999 ANC wins second term; steps down as president
  • December 1999 Diplomatic role facilitating peace talks in Burundi
  • April 30 2004 Evelyn Ntoko Mase (born 1922) dies
  • January 2005 Announces death of son Makgatho, from AIDS
  • 2006 After voicing criticisms of government, retires from public life
  • July 18, 2007 Aged 89, announces formation of the Elders group
  • December 5 2013 Dies

Life Story

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (18 July 1918- 5 December 2013) served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election.

Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1962 he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges, and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela served 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island. Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that led to multi-racial democracy in 1994. As president from 1994 to 1999, he frequently gave priority to reconciliation.

In South Africa, Mandela is often known as Madiba, an honorary title adopted by elders of Mandela's clan. Mandela has received more than 250 awards over four decades, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

See Nelson Mandela's Digital Archive;;

Early life

Nelson Mandela belongs to a cadet branch of the Thembu dynasty, which reigns in the Transkeian Territories of South Africa's Cape Province.[3] He was born in Mvezo, a small village located in the district of Umtata, the Transkei capital.[3] His patrilineal great-grandfather Ngubengcuka (who died in 1832), ruled as the Inkosi Enkhulu, or king, of the Thembu people.[4] One of the king's sons, named Mandela, became Nelson's grandfather and the source of his surname. However, because he was only the Inkosi's child by a wife of the Ixhiba clan (the so-called "Left-Hand House"[5]), the descendants of his branch of the royal family were not eligible to succeed to the Thembu throne.

Mandela's father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, served as chief of the town of Mvezo.[6] However, upon alienating the colonial authorities, they deprived Mphakanyiswa of his position, and moved his family to Qunu. Despite this, Mphakanyiswa remained a member of the Inkosi's Privy Council, and served an instrumental role in Jongintaba Dalindyebo's ascension to the Thembu throne. Dalindyebo would later return the favour by informally adopting Mandela upon Mphakanyiswa's death.[7] Mandela's father had four wives, with whom he fathered thirteen children (four boys and nine girls).[7] Mandela was born to his third wife ('third' by a complex royal ranking system), Nosekeni Fanny. Fanny was a daughter of Nkedama of the Mpemvu Xhosa clan, the dynastic Right Hand House, in whose umzi or homestead Mandela spent much of his childhood.[8] His given name Rolihlahla means "to pull a branch of a tree", or more colloquially, "troublemaker".

Rolihlahla Mandela became the first member of his family to attend a school, where his teacher Miss Mdingane gave him the English name "Nelson".

Nobel Prize

Biography: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Hendry Mphakanyiswa of the Tembu Tribe. Mandela himself was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand where he studied law. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party's apartheid policies after 1948. He went on trial for treason in 1956-1961 and was acquitted in 1961.

After the banning of the ANC in 1960, Nelson Mandela argued for the setting up of a military wing within the ANC. In June 1961, the ANC executive considered his proposal on the use of violent tactics and agreed that those members who wished to involve themselves in Mandela's campaign would not be stopped from doing so by the ANC. This led to the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years' imprisonment with hard labour. In 1963, when many fellow leaders of the ANC and the Umkhonto we Sizwe were arrested, Mandela was brought to stand trial with them for plotting to overthrow the government by violence. His statement from the dock received considerable international publicity. On June 12, 1964, eight of the accused, including Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment. From 1964 to 1982, he was incarcerated at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town; thereafter, he was at Pollsmoor Prison, nearby on the mainland.

During his years in prison, Nelson Mandela's reputation grew steadily. He was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in South Africa and became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength. He consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom.

Nelson Mandela was released on February 11, 1990. After his release, he plunged himself wholeheartedly into his life's work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier. In 1991, at the first national conference of the ANC held inside South Africa after the organization had been banned in 1960, Mandela was elected President of the ANC while his lifelong friend and colleague, Oliver Tambo, became the organisation's National Chairperson.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1993, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1994

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/Nobel Lectures. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate.

For more updated biographical information, see: Mandela, Nelson. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1994. Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1993



Mr Mandela has been married three times. He had six children, four girls and two boys.

A daughter and two sons passed away:

His surviving children are-:



1. With Evelyn Ntoko Mase

2. With Winifred Nomzamo Zanyiwe Madikizela


  1. Ndileka Mandela [1965—F—Thembi]
  2. Nandi Mandela [1968—F—Thembi]
  3. Mandla Mandela [1974—M—Makgatho]
  4. Tukwini Mandela [1974—F—Makaziwe]
  5. Dumani Mandela [1976—M—Makaziwe]
  6. Zaziwe Manaway[1977—F—Zenani]
  7. Zamaswazi Dlamini [1979—F—Zenani]
  8. Zinhle Dlamini [1980—M—Zenani]
  9. Zoleka Mandela [1980—F—Zindzi]
  10. Ndaba Mandela [1983—M—Makgatho]
  11. Kweku Mandela [1985—M—Makaziwe]
  12. Zondwa Mandela [1985—M—Zindzi]
  13. Bambatha Mandela [1989—M—Zindzi]
  14. Mbuso Mandela [1991—M—Makgatho]
  15. Zozuko Dlamini [1992—M—Zenani]
  16. Zwelabo Mandela [1992—M—Zindzi]
  17. Andile Mandela [1993—M—Makgatho]


  1. Thembela Mandela [1984—M—Ndileka]
  2. Luvuyo Hlanganani Mandela [1986—Nandi]
  3. Pumla Mandela [1993—F—Ndileka]
  4. Zenani Mandela [1997–2010—F—Zoleka ]
  5. Ziyanda Manaway [2000—M—Zaziwe]
  6. Zwelami Mandela [2003—M—Zoleka]
  7. Zamakhosi Obiri [2008—F—Zamaswazi]
  8. Zipokhazi Manaway[2009—F—Zaziwe]
  9. Zazi Mandela [2010—F—Zondwa]
  10. Lewanika Ngubencuka Mandela [2010—M—Ndaba]
  11. Zenawe Zibuyile Mandela [2011–2011—M—Zoleka]
  12. Qheya II Zanethemba Mandela [2011—M—Mandla]
  13. Ziwelene Linge Mandela [2011—M—Zondwa]

Nelson Mandela Genealogy

In His own Words

  • I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
  • If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.
  • If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
  • If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.
  • In my country we go to prison first and then become President.
  • It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.
  • Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
  • Money won't create success, the freedom to make it will.
  • Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.
  • Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.
  • A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.
  • After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
  • Communists have always played an active role in the fight by colonial countries for their freedom, because the short-term objects of Communism would always correspond with the long-term objects of freedom movements.
  • Does anybody really think that they didn't get what they had because they didn't have the talent or the strength or the endurance or the commitment?
  • Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
  • For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
  • I cannot conceive of Israel withdrawing if Arab states do not recognize Israel, within secure borders.
  • I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.
  • I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.
  • I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses.
  • There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.
  • There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.
  • There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
  • There is no such thing as part freedom.
  • There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
  • When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.



Further Reading & Resources

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