In celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday on 18 July, we bring you a few interesting facts about South Africa’s beloved former president.

1. Nelson Mandela’s first job was as a security guard at a mine. He didn’t last long in the role as his contract was swiftly terminated when his employer found out that he was the runaway ward of the regent.

2. As well as leading South Africa out of the troubled times of apartheid he has fathered 6 children, has 20 grandchildren and an ever increasing number of great-grandchildren.

3. ‘Rolihlahla’ is his tribal name and translates directly as ‘Troublemaker.’

Former South Africa’s President Nelson Mandela celebrates his birthday with some of his family in Qunu

4. Nelson Mandela’s favourite poem is ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley. He would read the poem to fellow prisoners when imprisoned on Robben Island and legend has it that he delivered the poem to South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar before the Springbok’s triumphant 1995 Rugby World Cup victory.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

5. Mandela’s favourite food is the meat of a freshly slaughtered sheep, watered down with a bowl of Amarhewu. Amarhewu is a traditional fermented mielie meal drink with a texture somewhere between beer and porridge and a sour taste.

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