Six things you did not know about Nelson Mandela

December 10, 2013 6:59 AM

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Six things you did not know about Nelson Mandela

In his youth, Nelson Mandela enjoyed boxing and long-distance running. Even during the 27 years he spent in prison, he would exercise every morning.

"I did not enjoy the violence of boxing so much as the science of it. I was intrigued by how one moved one's body to protect oneself, how one used a strategy both to attack and retreat, how one paced oneself over a match," he wrote in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom.

"Boxing is egalitarian. In the ring, rank, age, colour and wealth are irrelevant... I never did any real fighting after I entered politics. My main interest was in training; I found the rigorous exercise to be an excellent outlet for tension and stress. After a strenuous workout, I felt both mentally and physically lighter," he wrote.

Among the memorabilia in the Mandela Family Museum in Soweto, visitors can find the world championship belt given to Mandela by American boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.

Rolihlahla Mandela was nine years old when a teacher at the primary Methodist school where he was studying in Qunu, South Africa, gave him an English name - Nelson - in accordance with the custom to give all school children Christian names.

This was common practice in South Africa and in other parts of the continent, where a person could often be given an English name that foreigners would find easier to pronounce.

Rolihlahla is not a common name in South Africa. It is Xhosa, one of the 11 official languages in the country, spoken by about 18% of the population. It literally means "pulling the branch of a tree", but its colloquial meaning is "troublemaker". However, in South Africa, Mr. Mandela was often called by his clan name - Madiba - which South Africans used out of respect.

Prior to that, along with other former ANC a leader, Mr. Mandela was only able to visit the US with special permission from the secretary of state, because the ANC had been designated a terrorist organisation by South Africa's former apartheid government.

"It is frankly a rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive in my own counterparts - the foreign minister of South Africa, not to mention the great leader, Nelson Mandela," then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in 2008.

The bill scrapping the designation was introduced by Howard Berman, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who promised to "wipe away" the "indignity”

Source: standardmedia.co.ke

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