Anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa from 1994-99, would have turned 96 today, Friday, 18th July.
We all know Nelson Mandela as the first black President of South Africa who spent 27 years in prison for trying to overthrow the pro-apartheid government. The man who became a hero to people all over the world for his long fight against racial prejudice and for his courage and wisdom in bringing people together to live in peace."I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances," Nelson Mandela
But few of us know what kind of person he was with his friends, children and relatives. Honouring him on his 96th birthday, we would like to tell you about Madiba as a simple but a great man.
Mandela was a private person who often concealed his emotions and confided in very few people. Privately, he lived an austere life, refusing to drink alcohol or smoke, and even as President made his own bed, although was also renowned for his mischievous sense of humour.
Mandela celebrates his 91st birthday with his wife, Graca Machel, at their home in Houghton, near Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 18, 2009
He was known for being both stubborn and loyal, and at times exhibited a quick temper. He was typically friendly and welcoming, and appeared relaxed in conversation with everyone, including his opponents.
Nelson Mandela hold Jules Rimet World Cup at FIFA headquarters after SA won the right to host the 2014 World Cup finals
Constantly polite and courteous, he was attentive to all, irrespective of their age or status, and often talked to children or servants. In later life he always looked for the best in people, even defending political opponents to his allies, who sometimes thought him too trusting of others.
Mandela laughs while celebrating his 89th birthday with children at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in 2007. For Mandela’s 91st birthday, his charity organisation opened the world’s fifth hospital devoted to children
He was highly image conscious, and throughout his life always sought out fine quality clothes, with many commentators believing that he carried himself in a regal manner. His official biographer Anthony Sampson commented that he was a "master of imagery and performance", excelling at presenting himself well in press photographs and producing soundbites.
The Father of the Nation with his family
In describing his life, Mandela stated that "I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances." Mandela was married three times, fathered six children, had 17 grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren.