Original Oil Paintings of Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela Childhood
As a child Nelson Mandela recalls playing with toys that they made themselves; moulding animals and birds out of clay and ox-drawn sledges out of tree branches.
Nelson Mandela's father became friends with two brothers from the amaFengu tribe who were educated christians. They inspired Nelson Mandela's mother to convert to Christianity and Mandela was baptised into the Methodist Church and sent to school due to the influence of the brothers. When not in school the young Nelson Mandela would work as a plough boy, wagon guide, and shepard. In his spare time he recalls riding horses, shooting birds with slingshots and jousting with other boys. Some evenings would be spent dancing away to the singing and clapping of the Thembu maidens.
Later Nelson Mandela was sent to live with Chief Jongintaba who was
acting regent of the Thembu people a the time. Here christianity was part of the fabric of life and Nelson Mandela attended church each sunday with the regent and his wife. At age 16 the regent decided that Nelson had to be circumcised so that he could become a man. If a boy did not go through the process of circumcision he could not inherit, marry or officiate in tribal rituals.
The main speaker at the circumcision was Chief Meligqili whose words affected Nelson Mandela greatly. The chief shared his misgivings that as long as they were slaves in their own country they could never fully experience that which the circumcision ritual promises. He lamented that the abilities, intelligence and promise of the young men at the ritual would be squandered as they would be forced to eke out a living doing the simplest and most mindless of chores for the white man. These words were like seeds sown in the mind of the young Nelson Mandela.
The young Nelson Mandela's destiny was to become a counsellor to the chief and for that he had to be educated. At the age of 19 he was sent to the Wesleyan College at Fort Beaufort. At the college a friend encouraged Nelson Mandela to take up long distance running and he enjoyed the discipline and solitariness of it. He also took up boxing for which he was less suited for physically; it was only a few years later when he gained some weight that he began boxing in earnest.
After college Nelson Mandela went to Fort Hare; an occasion for which the regent bought him his first suit. Mandela recalls that the suit made him feel grown up and sophisticated. There he met up with a nephew of his K.D. Matanzima also a methodist; and under his tutolage Nelson Mandela attended church services, took up soccer and generally followed his advice. He also saw Nelson Mandela's future as a counsellor and encouraged him to study law. At Fort Hare Mandela competed in soccer and cross-country running. He recalls that running tought him valuable lessons; training counted more than intrinsic ability in this sport. You could compensate for a lack of natural aptitude with dilligence and discipline. Nelson Mandela also became a member of the Students Christian Association and tought bible classes on sundays in the neighbouring villages. A comrade on these excursions was Oliver Tambo.