Nelson Mandela - Childhood
The Protea Series began in 1986 andin 2013 the new series, The Life of a Legend launched. Running from 2013 – 2025 the series features the life of South Africa’s former president, Nelson Mandela.
Born on July 18, 1918, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela experienced an idyllic rural childhood in what was then known as the Transkei. “A place apart, a tiny precinct removed from the world of great events, where life was lived much as it had been for hundreds of years,” is how he has described Mvezo, the place of his birth. Mandela says some of the happiest years of his boyhood were spent in the village of Qunu where his mother set up her own homestead, soon after he was born. Mandela slept with his siblings around a fire on a floor made from crushed ant-heaps. It was here, he said when writing from prison, he spent some of his happiest years. Days were spent herding cattle and playing with friends: stick-fighting, fishing and hunting with a sling-shot. It was also in his childhood – particularly when he became a herd-boy, aged just five - that Mandela’s Xhosa roots were cemented.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
This feeling of belonging to a “proud people” was further enhanced when Mandela’s father died, when he was just 12. He was sent to the Great Place, Mqhekezweni, the provisional capital of Thembuland and seat of Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, the regent of the Thembu people. Jongintaba became Mandela’s guardian and treated the young boy the same as his other children. Throughout this childhood, the foundation was laid for the great compassion and championing of the innocence of children that Mandela showed later in life.