Nelson Mandela a project by Alice Bertelloni, Lucrezia Bertilorenzi & Sara Righetti

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was born in Mvezo (South Africa) on the 18 july 1918 and he died on the 5 december 2013, in Johannesburg. He was the first black president of South Africa and he spent 27 years in prison for trying to overthrow the pro-apartheid government. After he left the prison, he worked for human rights and a better future for everyone in South Africa

Mandela's family

Mandela's father Henry was a chief of the Tembu people. His mother was Nosekeni Fanny. The Mandelas were related to the Tembu royal family. When Nelson was 9, his father died. He was looked after by Jongintaba Dalindyebo, who was regent (acting chief) of the Tembu.
A young Mandela

His education

Nelson went to a mission school, and then to college. He was good at school work. He also enjoyed boxing and running. At Fort Hare University, he studied law. One of his friends there was Oliver Tambo. Nelson left the university in 1939, after student protests about the way it was run.

Nelson grows up

Mandela's family had chosen a wife for him. But he did not want an arranged marriage. So he left for the city of Johannesburg. He went on with his studies, and became a lawyer in 1942.
One of the most famous citation of Mandela

Social and political situation in South Africa

Most South Africans are black. There are also people of European and Asian backgrounds, and people of mixed race. Dutch people set up the first white colony in South Africa in 1652. Later British settlers came. Dutch farmers called themselves 'Boers', from a Dutch word meaning 'farmers'. They spoke a language called Afrikaans. Most other white settlers spoke English. Black people spoke Bantu languages such as isiNdebele and isiZulu.

His fight for human rights

Mandela and Oliver Tambo set up South Africa's first black law firm. Poor people came to them for help. Mandela led young people in the ANC. Many white people, as well as black people, spoke out against apartheid. Mandela admired Gandhi, who had used peaceful protest in India. Perhaps peaceful protest could get rid of apartheid, without fighting? But to speak out was dangerous. In 1956, Mandela and 155 other people were arrested for treason. After a trial lasting five years, he was set free in 1961.
Nelson Mandela in the prison

What was Apartheid?

Apartheid (say A-PART-HITE) forced white and non-white people to live in separate areas. Non-white people meant black people, people from Asia and people of mixed race. A white person and a black person could not marry. Black people and white people could not share a table in a restaurant, or sit together on a bus. Black children and white children went to different schools. Sports teams were all-white or all-black, never mixed.
Nelson Mandela with his wife

Some curiosities on Mandela:

  • In prison and afterwards Mandela got up early, at 4.30. He began each day with exercises.
  • Mandela has a species of spider named after him.
  • Mandela's bright coloured shirts were called 'Madiba' shirts, because Madiba was Mandela's nickname.

What we think about him?

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