5 Things You Didn't Know About Nelson Mandela

On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela, leader of the movement to end South African apartheid, was released from prison after 27 year.  Here are 5 lesser-known facts you didn’t know about the man who became the first black president of South Africa...


Mandela Never Forgot His Prison Number The number assigned to Mandela while he was in prison was 46664. This designation was because the year was 1964 and he was the 466th person to be imprisoned that year. Although Mandela spent many years in prison, he embraced his prisoner number of 46664 and made it the name of his awareness program for HIV/AIDS.

His Election as the President of South Africa Was Historic In 1994, Mandela became the first president of South Africa to be elected democratically, the first Black president of South Africa, and the oldest person to hold the office. His inauguration was historic because it united the highest number of heads of state since the 1963 funeral of John F. Kennedy.


Going by the Name "Nelson" Was Easier Than Saying His Actual Name Nelson Mandela’s first name was actually Rolihlahla, which means "pulling the branch of a tree." The school teachers at the Methodist school he went to had problems pronouncing his name. It was one of these teachers who first called him Nelson, for Horatio Nelson, the British admiral. 

Mandela’s Name and Work Lives On Nelson Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, along with over 695 other awards. More than twenty-five universities, schools, and other educational institutions are named for him, and numerous foundations and scholarships bear his name. To date, almost 100 statues, sculptures, and other works of art have either been dedicated to him or made of him.

He Was on The US Terrorist Watch List Mandela was once considered a criminal in his own country and a communist in the eyes of the United States, where he was placed on a terrorism watch list by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.  In 2008, after Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize, President George W. Bush removed Mandela and the African National Congress from the terrorist list.