Few lives have been thoroughly chronicled as that of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday at the age of 95.
From his earliest days as a scion of South African royalty to his activism against racism and apartheid in South Africa, Mandela and his heroism has literally created history for more than 75 years. But even international icons such as Mandela have little-known facts in their backgrounds.
Here are 20 facts you may not know about Madiba.
1) Nelson Mandela was born into the royal Thembu family. [Source: About.com]
2) His first treason trial lasted five years from 1956 to 1961. Mandela was found not guilty. [Source: About.com]
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3) Though Mandela rejected violence in his later years, he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961 which bombed government targets. [Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]
4) Most people know Mandela was imprisoned at the Robben Island prison but Mandela was also held at Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison during his 27 year sentence. [Source: CNN.com]
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5) Mandela is the only person to ever receive both the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Soviet Order of Lenin and the Nobel Peace Prize. [Source: Wikipedia.com]
6) Mandela’s name, Rolihlahla, means troublemaker. [Source: About.com]
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7) Mandela’s father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, was a local chief in the Transkei region and had four wives. [Source: history.com]
8) Mandela was baptized a Methodist. [Source: Biography.com]
9) Mandela was circumcised at the age of 16 in a ceremony called Dalibunga. [Source: Euronews]
10) Ballroom dancing was among Mandela’s skills. [Source: Google Books]
11) Prior to his death, he was the only living person to be made an honorary Canadian citizen. [Source: Canadian Broadcasting Channel]
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12) When Stevie Wonder dedicated to Mandela his 1985 Oscar Award for the song “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” Wonder’s music was banned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation. [Source: Los Angeles Times]
13) In 1998, Mandela married his third wife, Graca Machel, at the age of 80. She was the widow of former Mozambican president and ally on South Africa’s freedom struggle, Samora Michel, who had died 12 years earlier. [Source: The Telegraph]
14) Mandela appeared in the 1992 film “Malcolm X.” [Source: imdb.com]
15) In the days following his release from prison in 1990, Mandela stayed at the home of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. [Source: NPR]
16) President Ronald Reagan considered Mandela a communist terrorist and worked against the African National Congress. [Source: Salon]
17) Mandela’s first son, Thembi, died in a car accident in 1969. [Source: Wikipedia.com]
18) Mandela’s eyesight was permanently damaged from sun glare while being forced to work in prison without sunglasses. [Source: Globalpost.com]
19) In 1953, Mandela and ANC associate, Oliver Tambo, founded the only Black African law firm in South Africa. [Source: Wikipedia.com]
20) Mandela was 9-years-old when his father died of a lung disease. [Source: Biography.com]
Below is a tribute to Mandela, from our colleagues at Radio One.
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