Beard History Month - Rolihlahla "Nelson" Mandela

Rolihlahla "Nelson" Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in the village of Mvezo in Umtatu. Both his parents were devout Christians and sent him to a local Methodist school, where he came to be known as “ Nelson”, a name given to him by his schoolteacher, largely due to British educational system in Africa.

His father who was destined to be a chief lost his title and fortune over a dispute with local magistrate, forcing the family to move to Qunu. When Mandela was 9 years old, his father died of lung disease. He later said he inherited his father’s “proud rebelliousness” and “stubborn sense of fairness”. He was adopted by Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, an acting regent of the Thembu people. He left his carefree life in Qunu and quickly adapted to the new, more sophisticated surroundings of Mqhekezweni. Mandela took classes in a one room school, studying English Xhosa history and geography. It was during this time he developed his interest in South African History and the oppression by the British. Listening to the tales told by elderly visitors he became influenced by the anti-imperialist rhetoric of Chief Joyi.

In Johannesburg, he became actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress in 1942. For 20 years, Mandela directed peaceful, nonviolent acts of defiance against the South African government and its racist policies .He was arrested in 1962 for inciting the workers to go on strike. He was imprisoned for 27 years in prison. He was released in 1990 and petitions for his release were published in the Johannesburg Sunday post. A coordinated international campaign was also launched for his release which exemplifies the influence and support Mandela was beginning to gain the global political community. Nelson Mandela remains one of the world’s leading political authority. He was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1993 for his work for world peace and his fight against Apartheid.