Nelson Mandela was a private person who often concealed his emotions and confided in very few people. He lived an austere life, refusing to drink alcohol or smoke. As president, he even made his own bed. Nelson Mandela was also renowned for his somewhat mischievous sense of humor. He was well-known for being both stubborn and loyal, and at times he exhibited a quick temper. He was typically very friendly, welcoming and he always appeared relaxed in conversations with everyone, including his rivals.
Nelson Mandela was constantly polite and courteous and attentive to all, no matter what their age or he status. He even talked to children or servants. Later in life, he always looked out for the best in people and he even defended political opponents to his allies, who sometimes thought he was too trusting. Nelson Mandela was very image cautious and he always sought out fine quality clothes, with many believing that he carried himself in a regal manner.
Nelson Mandela once stated the following: “I was not a messiah but an ordinary man who had to become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.”
Nelson Mandela was married three times, fathered six children and had 17 grandchildren. His first marriage was to Evelyn Ntoko Mase in October 1944. They divorced after 13 years in 1957 under the multiple strains of his adultery and constant absences, devotion to revolutionary agitation, and the fact that she was a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was a religion requiring political neutrality. The couple had two sons whom Nelson Mandela survived, Madiba Thembekile and Makgatho Mandela. His first son died in a car crash and his second son died of AIDS. The couple had two daughters, both named Makaziwe Mandela. The first passed away at the age of 9 and the second (known as Maki), survived Nelson Mandela. Magatho Mandela’s son, Mandla Mandela, became chief of the Mvezo tribal council in 2007.
Nelson Mandela’s second wife, Winnie Mandela, also came from the Transkei area. They met in Johannesburg, where she was the city’s first black social worker. They had two daughters, Zenani Mandela was born on 4 February 1959, and Zindziswa Mandela was born in 1960. Zindzi Mandela was only 18 months old when Mandela was sent to Robben Island. Later, Winnie Mandela was deeply torn by family discord which mirrored the country’s political problems. This led to their separation in April 1992 and divorce in March 1996, which was fueled by political estrangement. Nelson Mandela’s third wife was Graça Machel, whom he married on his 80th birthday in 1998.