Switched At Birth: Celebrities Who Were Adopted

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7. Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, former South African president and anti-apartheid activist, was born July 18, 1918 to a highborn family. Mandela’s father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, a nobleman of the Thembu Tribe, had been instrumental in helping his friend Jongintaba Dalindyebo ascend the Thembu throne. In recognition of this debt, Dalindyebo informally adopted the nine-year-old Mandela when his father died of tuberculosis. He was moved from the small village of Qunu to the Thembu provincial capital, Mqhekewenzi, seeing his mother (his father’s third wife) on occasional visits. Mandela’s given name – ‘Rolihlahla’ – means ‘to pull a branch of a tree’, which translates colloquially as ‘troublemaker’.

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