Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in the village of Mvezo in Umtata
, then part of South Africa's Cape Province
. Given the forename Rolihlahla, a Xhosa
term colloquially meaning "troublemaker", in later years he became known by his clan name, Madiba. His patrilineal great-grandfather, Ngubengcuka
, was king of the Thembu
people in the Transkeian Territories
of South Africa's modern Eastern Cape
province. One of Ngubengcuka's sons, named Mandela, was Nelson's grandfather and the source of his surname. Because Mandela was the king's child by a wife of the Ixhiba clan, a so-called "Left-Hand House", the descendants of his cadet branch
of the royal family were morganatic
, ineligible to inherit the throne but recognised as hereditary royal councillors.
Nelson Mandela's father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa Mandela(1880-1928), was a local chief and councillor to the monarch; he was appointed to the position in 1915, after his predecessor was accused of corruption by a governing white magistrate. In 1926, Gadla was also sacked for corruption, but Nelson was told that his father had lost his job for standing up to the magistrate's unreasonable demands. A devotee of the god Qamata
, Gadla was a polygamist with four wives, four sons and nine daughters, who lived in different villages. Nelson's mother was Gadla's third wife, Nosekeni Fanny, daughter of Nkedama of the Right Hand House and a member of the amaMpemvu clan of the Xhosa. Read more...