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Why Is Nelson Mandela A Hero? 6 Facts About One Of The World's Greatest Men

Late last year the world lost an amazing man and leader. In December 2013 South African President Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95 after suffering from health issues. Mandela's death not only impacted his country but reached out and affected the world. He has inspired change throughout his country and internationally. To honor the late South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist, the United Nations created theNelson Mandela International Day, which falls on July 18. To honor Mandela here are six facts about the one of the world's greatest leaders.

1. He wore disguises around South Africa. After Mandela's verdict trial he began secretly traveling around South Africa in disguise to garnish support for his organization, The African National Congress, which would later become his political party. He would disguise himself as a chauffeur, which earned him the nickname "The Black Pimpernel" as government troops searched for him in vain. It was even rumored that he dressed like a chef or gardener to evade the government.

2. Before receiving his Christian first name, Nelson, in his youth, Mandela was born with the forename "Rolihlahla." Which in the Xhosa language roughly translate to troublemaker. Starting with a name like that it's almost as if Mandela was meant to lead. With a name like troublemaker it only seems fitting Mandela went through such lengths in the face of adversity.

3. His ancestor was a king. That's right, Mandela was a descendant of a king. His great grandfather on his father's side was the ruler of the Thembu people in the present day Eastern Cape Province. His grandfather was named Mandela, which became Nelson's last name. How many ex-presidents and great leaders can say they actually come from royalty?

4. He Hung out with Michael Jackson and the Spice Girls. Before he even became president and far after it Mandela was a star in his own light. Attending and supporting fundraising concerts and events plus how high profiled he was and paired with his style and affable nature he was friends with a lot of big named stars. He would have guests like Michael Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg and the Spice Girls over for parties at his house.

5. He had his own personal designer. Mandela was a sharp dresser and he made sure to do his royal heritage proud. Once becoming president, Mandela would change his outfits several times a day. He also popularized Madiba shirts, which are designed by his personal designer Yusuf Surtee. Mandela even set a stylish, open minded precedent for South African parliament that continues today.

6. He served 18 years on a prison island. Eventually, Mandela was captured in 1962 in eastern South Africa. He was quickly jailed and sent to Robben Island. He was held there often in solitary confinement for 18 years. It is said Mandela slept on a straw mat in a damp room, and was forced to do manual labor, breaking larger rocks into smaller rocks. The worst part is he was not permitted to wear sunglasses and permanently damaged his eyes.