How Did Nelson Mandela Die? A Closer Look At The Health Issues That Contributed To His Passing

Do you know how did Nelson Mandela die? If you want to know about his life, you’ve landed at the right place. Read the facts here!

Africa faced the most challenging time to gain its independence from the rule of colonizers. Even after that, their struggle continued to get their identity

In the midst of ages of struggle, some heroes never wore capes but were determined to get rights for their community.

One of those heroes was Nelson Mandela. The way he worked and struggled for Africans to get their independence and identity, no one had ever thought to do so. In this article, we will see some of the struggles and shed some light on how did Nelson Mandela die and where did Nelson Mandela die?

So let’s buckle up for the ride to the glorious past!

Nelson Mandela – An overview of his early life

Before jumping into how did Nelson Mandela die, let’s have a brief overview of his life. Nelson Mandela was a true hero whose life was marked by perseverance, courage, and an unwavering commitment to justice and equality. The harsh realities of apartheid South Africa shaped his early life.

Nelson Mandela was born in a village called Mvezo in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, was a local chief and a member of the Thembu tribe. Mandela was given the name “Rolihlahla,” which means “troublemaker” in Xhosa, one of South Africa’s official languages.

Growing up, he encountered every nook and cranny of the apartheid system in South Africa. So what was Apartheid? Racial segregation and discrimination were introduced in 1948 to maintain white minority rule.

Like many black Africans, Mandela’s family experiences an elevated amount of poverty and racial discrimination daily. Despite these challenges, Mandela became a bright and curious child with a thirst for knowledge.

Mandela’s education

He attended primary school in Qunu, a nearby village, and later attended Clarkebury Boarding Institute and Healdtown, two prestigious mission schools that provided a more formal education.

After completing his secondary education, Mandela moved to Johannesburg to pursue a law degree at the University of Witwatersrand. However, he was forced to drop out after two years due to financial difficulties.

Mandela began working as a clerk for a law firm, where he was first exposed to the injustice of apartheid. He witnessed firsthand how South Africans were denied fundamental rights and freedoms and how the legal system was used to uphold the racist policies of the government.

Nelson Mandela’s health issues

Nelson Mandela, an anti-apartheid icon, faced numerous health issues in his later years. Despite his health challenges, Mandela remained a symbol of strength and resilience, inspiring people worldwide.


Mandela’s health issues began in 1988 when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He contracted the illness while serving in the prison of Robben Island. Although he was diagnosed with TB in 1985, he did not receive treatment until his condition worsened. He was forced to withdraw from public life while his treatment progressed.

He was initially treated at a prison hospital, but his condition worsened; therefore, he was transferred to a hospital in Cape Town. His health continued to be a concern throughout his imprisonment, and he suffered lung problems and other ailments.

Prostate cancer

After Mandela came out of prison in 1990, he faced health challenges, including respiratory issues and pneumonia. In 2001, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent treatment for it, which was successful, but his health continued to mount.

Mandela even underwent surgery to remove his prostate gland. Moreover, he received radiation therapy and regular check-ups to monitor his recovery.

Abdominal problems

Mandela’s life was not only filled with social struggles but also with health struggles. After fighting many health ailments throughout his life, he was diagnosed with a stomach ailment in 2011. Although the type of ailment was never disclosed, it is considered that the cause of the ailment was an old gastric problem.


Lung infection

In 2011, Mandela was hospitalized for a respiratory infection, later revealed to result from an undiagnosed lung condition. Despite his medical team’s best efforts, Mandela’s health continued to decline, and he was hospitalized several times a year.

His recurring lung infection was due to his exposure to harsh conditions and asbestos in prison. His lung problems led to his hospitalization over and over again because he faced difficulty breathing. He required oxygen therapy to help with breathing.

In December 2012, he was hospitalized again for 18 days for effective treatment; however, it didn’t help much. He gave up in December 2013 while fighting like a lion against the lung infection. Nelson Mandela died on December 5th, 2013, at Houghton Estate, Johannesburg, South Africa.

False death of Nelson Mandela: The Mandela effect

While talking about how Nelson Mandela died, we cannot skip the part where many people believed he died before his death. Sounds confusing? Let me explain!

Many people came forward who believed that Nelson Mandela had died in prison in 1985. Well, that’s not true. As per facts, he was released from prison in 1990 and died in 2013.

So, what’s with the false memory? Well, it is named the Mandela effect as it was first seen at Mandela’s death. The Mandela effect is an occurrence in which a group of people shares a false memory of a fact or a past event, just like the false death of Nelson Mandela.

Fiona Broome first came forward and shared her memory of Mandela’s death. She even remembered his widow delivering speeches and riots amidst his funeral. She launched a website where she provided evidence of Mandela’s death and testimonies of around 500 people.

Despite the widespread nature of the Mandela effect, psychologists and scientists believed that its possible explanation was the “fallibility of human memory” and the “spread of false information.”

Nelson Mandela’s death

Still, wondering how did Nelson Mandela die? So in the months following his passing, Mandela’s health was not good. He had a recurring lung infection that kept him in and out of the hospital. But even with his failing health, he was always surrounded by his family and friends who loved him dearly.

During his final days, he received the best medical care and attention from a team of doctors and nurses. He remained alert and engaged with the visitors who came to see him. He has always put others first despite his difficult times.

On December 5th, 2013, at around 8:50 pm, Mandela passed away at his home in Johannesburg and was laid to rest in his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape Province.

So, How old was Nelson Mandela when he died? Mandela was 95 years old when he passed away. Although he lived a long life, it was filled with struggles and hardships.

Reaction to Mandela’s death

As one of the most eminent revolutionary movement leaders, Nelson Mandela’s death sent waves of grief throughout the world. His death had a profound impact on people as his news of death prompted a wave of global mourning.

The reaction to Mandela’s death was emotional and widespread, with people from all races and walks expressing their grief and admiration, and love for the former president of South Africa.

Leaders from all over the world issued heartfelt statements as a mark of respect and tribute. Some raised half-mast flags as a way to show respect. The outpouring of admiration and grief for the leader was a testament to the impact he had created through his actions in his lifetime.

He was a champion of democracy, human rights, and social justice. Mandela fought against injustice and discrimination, but his unwavering commitment to eradicate these causes made him an icon of freedom, struggle, and equality.

At the time of his death, people mourned his social and personal impact on people through his hard work. Mandela was a symbol of hope and courage for the people who lived and faced the apartheid era in South Africa.

In the wake of Mandela’s death, numerous other discussions were going on about his lasting legacy and how it will transform the future. Some commentators called his death the “end of the era” as they lost an exemplary leader. While some committed to walking in his steps and continuing the work, he started building a more equitable world.

Although the grief was worldwide, it was particularly strong in Mandel’s hometown. Hundreds and thousands gathered outside his Johannesburg home to pay tribute and respect. Some sang and danced by celebrating his legendary life and efforts as an anti-apartheid leader, while others bowed their heads and mourned.

Furthermore, the mourning of Mandela was not limited to public figures and politicians; ordinary people shared their reactions heartfeltly. They flooded social media platforms with condolences and respect by adding hashtags like #Madiba #RememberingMandela.

After his death, the memorials were arranged all over the country. Many people were expected to make a pilgrimage to his home town where his burial was held after twelve days of national mourning.


Thousands of people attended the funeral, including world leaders, celebrities, and public members. US President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon were among those in attendance.

Mandela’s body was transported to Qunu in a funeral procession that covered a distance of over 700 kilometers, passing through several towns and cities along the way. He is buried following Xhosa tradition, and close family and friends attended his burial.


On December 10th, 2013, the world came together to honor the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela at his memorial service held at FNB Stadium Johannesburg. It was a beautiful and emotional tribute to him for fighting against apartheid and pursuing justice and equality.

After knowing the facts of how did nelson Mandela die, let’s have a look at some of the facts about his memorial service:


The memorial was attended by over 90,000 people from all over the world. It was a diverse and colorful crowd, reflecting the spirit of unity and hope that Mandela had inspired throughout his life.


Several speakers delivered moving tributes to Mandela at the memorial, including US President Barack Obama, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, and his granddaughter, Nandi Mandela. Their words were powerful and heartfelt, capturing the essence of Mandela’s message of forgiveness, reconciliation, and love.


The memorial was also a celebration of Mandela’s love for music. Several performers took to the stage to sing and play songs essential to Mandela throughout his life. Among them were the Soweto Gospel Choir, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Bono, who sang a tribute to Mandela called “Ordinary Love.”

Sign language interpreter

However, the memorial was also marred by controversy when it was discovered that the sign language interpreter used during the event was a fraud. The man, Thamsanqa Jantjie, later admitted to being a fake and apologized for his actions.

Unity and hope

Despite the controversy, Mandela’s memorial was a moment of unity and hope for people worldwide. It was a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always a light that can guide us toward a better future. As Obama said in his tribute to Mandela, “We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But to young people of Africa and around the world – you can make his life’s work your own.”

67 minutes of Mandela

Besides knowing how Nelson Mandela died, looking up to his personality and how he served his people is essential. He is given tributes through 67 minutes of Mandela every year.

So what’s the deal with 67 minutes of Mandela? Well, it’s an inspiring global campaign that encourages people to honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela by giving back to their communities.

It all goes back to the number 67. Nelson Mandela dedicated 67 years to public service and social justice, fighting against apartheid and promoting equality. That’s pretty amazing.

In honor of his commitment to improving the world, people worldwide are encouraged to give just 67 minutes of their time on Mandela Day (July 18th) to volunteer or do something positive in their community.

You might wonder, “What can I do in just 67 minutes?” But the truth is, even a small act of kindness or service can make a big difference. You could clean up a local park, volunteer at a food bank, visit with older people at a nursing home, or help a neighbor with a chore they’re struggling with. The possibilities are endless, and every act of kindness and service adds up to create a better world.

The 67 minutes of Mandela campaign has become a popular way for individuals, organizations, and businesses to get involved in Mandela Day and make a difference. It’s a chance to join a global movement committed to creating positive change and promoting social justice. And the best part is it’s a simple and easy way to honor the incredible legacy of Nelson Mandela.

So, what will you do with your 67 minutes of Mandela? Whatever you choose, remember that every act of kindness and service makes a difference and that we all have the power to make the world a better place.

Lesser-known facts about Nelson Mandela

  • Mandela’s favorite dish was tripe, a traditional South African dish made from the stomach lining of a cow.
  • He was once expelled from the university for organizing a boycott against the university’s policies.
  • Mandela was an amateur photographer and enjoyed taking photos of his family, friends, and the landscapes of South Africa.
  • He was a fan of Cuban cigars and often smoked them privately.
  • Mandela was also an avid gardener and spent much of his free time tending to his garden at his home in Johannesburg.
  • He was a big fan of the TV show “Dallas” and watched it regularly in prison.
  • Mandela was once a professional boxer and even won a match under the nickname “Kid Mandela.”
  • He was a keen musician and enjoyed playing the piano and the accordion.
  • Mandela was known for his impeccable fashion sense and always dressed impeccably, even in prison.
  • He had a close relationship with the singer Whitney Houston and even invited her to perform at his 80th birthday party.
  • Mandela was a keen learner and loved reading, even in prison. He read extensively on politics, history, and philosophy.
  • He was an accomplished runner and often went for long runs to stay fit and clear in his mind.
  • Mandela was also an animal lover and owned several pets, including a dog named Boerboel.
  • He was also a supporter of the Manchester United football club.
  • Mandela was an honorary citizen of several countries, including Canada, the United States, and Ireland.
  • Mandela was a polyglot and could speak several languages fluently, including English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, and Zulu.
  • He was a fan of the comic book Superman and often compared himself to the hero in his fight against injustice and oppression.
  • He was a skilled dancer and enjoyed performing traditional South African dances.
  • Mandela’s birth name was Rolihlahla, which means “troublemaker” in Xhosa.
  • Mandela was a big chess fan and often played with his fellow prisoners on Robben Island. He even used chess as a way to teach strategy and critical thinking to younger prisoners.


From the time when Nelson Mandela was born to how did Nelson Mandela die, let’s have a look at his life events through a brief timeline:

Year Event
1918 Birth of Nelson Mandela in South Africa
1937 Mandela begins attending the University of Fort Hare, the only university for Black South Africans at the time
1941 He is expelled from university of Fort Hare for participating in student protest
1944  Mandela marries his first wife, Evelyn Mase
1948 The National Party wins the South African election, and begin implementing apartheid laws
1952 Mandela become a lawyer and begins working with the ANC
1956 Mandela is arrested and charged with high treason
1960 ANC is banned and Mandela goes into hiding
1962 Mandela is arrested again and sentenced to five years in prison
1964 Mandela sentenced to life in prison for sabotage and conspiracy
1980 International pressure mounts for Mandela’s release
1990 Mandela came out of prison after 27 years
1993 He is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
1994 Mandela is elected as South Africa’s first Black president
1999 He steps down as president and becomes an advocate for global peace and social justice
2013 Mandela died at the age of 95


  • “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
  • “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”
  • “I learned courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
  • “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
  • “Do not judge me by my successes; judge me by how many times I fell and got back up again.”
  • “I am not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”
  • “There is no passion for being found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”


Knowing historical figures makes us revive the struggles and rights our ancestors fought for. Amongst many heroes, Nelson Mandela was at the top of the chart.

Knowing his life history and how did Nelson Mandela die is a great way to honor the struggles of our leaders.

Make sure to read the article thoroughly!

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