Former South African President Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today, July 18. After a remarkable life on the global stage, Madiba (a title of respect from his Xhosa clan name) passed away in December 2013 at 95 years of age.
When most people refer to the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, they do so with utmost formality. “Your Majesty,” or “ma’am,” in person is the most common.
When writing, people rarely call her anything other than “Queen Elizabeth” or “the Queen”. But most people aren’t like, the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.
According to Hello magazine, Mandela’s daughter Zindzi revealed that her father used to call the British monarch “Lizzie.”
Born a Xhosa in the Thembu royal family, he studied as a lawyer before joining the political fight against the government’s nationalist as a member of the African National Congress (ANC). He co-founded its Youth League in 1944. After apartheid was introduced four years later, Mandela led peaceful protests in opposition to the policy before shifting his focus to militancy and bombings in the early 1960s, which led to his arrest and life imprisonment in 1962.
Eighteen of the 27 years he spent behind bars were served on Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town. His continued detention became the focus of a global campaign for his release until, eventually, he walked free on February 2, 1990.
On this occasion the Queen said,
“On what would have been his 100th birthday, we remember the former President of South Africa as a champion for human rights, dignity, and freedom. Imagine the impact we could have if everyone followed his example and tried to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Elected president of South Africa in May 1994, he spent more than five years in office before stepping down in 1999, not before being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
His battle against his country’s apartheid regime was a testament to his courage, resilience, humility, and forgiveness, and it earned him a place in history as one of the 20th century’s greatest and most inspiring people.