Behind the Legend: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Nelson Mandela

1. Nelson is not his real name….
Mandela’s birth name was Rolihlahla. In his Xhosa tribe, the name means pulling the branch of a tree or troublemaker.The name “Nelson” was given to him by his teacher on his first day of elementary school as she could not pronounce his name.

2. Nelson Mandela ran the only Black Law Firm
In 1953, Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo founded the country’s first Black law firm, Mandela & Tambo, which defended people affected by apartheid laws. The firm ceased to exist after politics and the anti-Apartheid struggle began to consume most of both men’s time.

3. Nelson Mandela life imprisonment….
In 1964, Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment for plotting to overthrow South Africa’s apartheid regime. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on Robben Island for 18 of his 27 years in prison. Mandela’s prison number was 46664. The number stems from the fact that he was the 466th prisoner of 1964.

4. Mandela earned a bachelor’s degree while still in prison
Before Mandela was imprisoned, he had begun to study law at the University of Witwatersrand through correspondence. Mandela enrolled in the University of London’s correspondence program and received a Bachelor of Law degree, all while he was still in prison.

5. Nelson Mandela received many honours..
He received more than 695 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. More than 25 schools, universities and educational institutions have been named after Nelson Mandela. At least 19 scholarships and foundations bear his name. He was awarded 115 honorary degrees and more than 95 sculptures, statues, or pieces of art have been made of him or dedicated to him.

6. Nelson Mandela was a keen boxer
Mandela trained seriously as an amateur heavyweight and sparred with professional fighters including Jerry Moloi, a contender for South African lightweight champion. As well as boxing, Mandela excelled at long-distance running as a young man.

7. Nelson Mandela trained as a guerrilla fighter
Mandela believed that the use of violence was justified in the battle to bring down apartheid. He received military training in Ethiopia in 1962, learning how to use automatic rifles, pistols, mortars, bombs and mines. He also travelled to Algeria in 1962 to receive guerrilla training in the last days of the country’s war against its former colonial ruler France. But Mandela never fired a shot in anger during the armed struggle in South Africa.

8. Mandela remained on the US terrorist watch list until 2008
The US government placed the African National Congress on the list in the 1980s, when the organisation was firmly committed to armed resistance to apartheid. In 2008, after Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize the US removed ANC members from the terrorist list.

9. Helped the Lawrence family to get justice for their son Stephen who was murdered in 1993.
Doreen and Neville Lawrence credited Nelson Mandela with helping their efforts to get justice for their son Stephen who was murdered in a racially motivated attack in 1993. Mr Mandela said: “We are deeply touched by the brutality of this murder, even though it is commonplace in our country. It seems Black lives are cheap. The evil of racism is taking away innocent lives. The problems of racism and fascism is threatening the whole world.

10. Nelson Mandela Statue is the only Black man in Parliament Square
Unveiled on 29 August 2007, the 9ft Bronze statue is the first statue of a Black person to be housed in Parliament Square. It was created by English sculptor Ian Walters at a cost of £400,000.