Nelson Mandela Net Worth 2022 – Salary, Income, Earnings

Nelson Mandela Net Worth 

Nelson Mandela had an estimated net worth of $1 million at death. Nelson Mandela was the first Black president of South Africa, elected after time in prison for his anti-apartheid work. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He earned most of his income from his political career. 

Nelson Mandela was a South African politician, philanthropist, and social rights activist who served as the country’s first black president from 1994 to 1999. Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1942 after becoming involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his twenties. For 20 years, he led a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience against the South African government and its racist policies.

Mandela was imprisoned for political reasons for 27 years, beginning in 1962. Mandela and South African President F.W. de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their efforts to end the country’s apartheid system. Mandela will be an inspiration to civil rights activists around the world for generations to come.

To calculate the net worth of Nelson Mandela, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Nelson Mandela
Net Worth: $1 Million
Monthly Salary: $40 Thousand
Annual Income: $500 Thousand
Source of Wealth: Lawyer, Politician, Statesman

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Early Life

On July 18, 1918, Mandela was born in the tiny village of Mvezo, on the banks of the Mbashe River in Transkei, South Africa.

Rolihlahla Mandela was his birth name.

In the Xhosa language, “rolihlahla” literally means “pulling the branch of a tree,” but it is more commonly translated as “troublemaker.”

Mandela’s father, who was destined to be a chief, served as a tribal chief’s counselor for several years before losing both his title and fortune in a dispute with the local colonial magistrate.

Mandela was only a child at the time, and his father’s loss of status compelled his mother to relocate the family to Qunu, a smaller village north of Mvezo. The village was nestled in a narrow grassy valley with no roads and only footpaths connecting the pastures where livestock grazed.

The family lived in huts and subsisted on a local harvest of maize, sorghum, pumpkin, and beans. Water was obtained from springs and streams, and cooking was done outside.

Mandela played the games of young boys, acting out male rites of passage with toys he made from natural materials such as tree branches and clay.


Mandela was baptized in the Methodist Church at the suggestion of one of his father’s friends. He later became the first member of his family to attend school. Mandela’s teacher told him that his new first name would be Nelson, as was customary at the time and most likely due to the bias of the British educational system in South Africa.

Mandela’s father died of lung disease when he was 12 years old, drastically altering his life. Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, the acting regent of the Thembu people, adopted Mandela as a favor to Mandela’s father, who had recommended Jongintaba be made chief years before.

Mandela then left his carefree life in Qunu, fearing he would never see his village again. He drove to Mqhekezweni, Thembuland’s provincial capital, to the chief’s royal residence. Though he had not forgotten his beloved village of Qunu, he quickly adapted to Mqhekezweni’s new, more sophisticated surroundings.

Mandela was given the same status and responsibilities as the regent’s other two children, Justice, his son and oldest child, and Nomafu, his daughter. Mandela attended a one-room school near the palace, where he studied English, Xhosa, history, and geography.

Mandela developed an interest in African history during this period, thanks to elder chiefs who visited the Great Palace on official business. He discovered how the Africans had lived in relative peace until the arrival of the white people.

According to the elders, the children of South Africa used to live as brothers, but white men shattered that bond. While black men shared their land, air, and water with white people, white men took control of all of these resources.

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Political Awakening

Mandela was 16 when he underwent the traditional African circumcision ritual to mark his transition into manhood. Circumcision was more than just a surgical procedure; it was an elaborate ritual in preparation for manhood.

An uncircumcised man cannot inherit his father’s wealth, marry, or officiate at tribal rituals, according to African tradition. Mandela took part in the ceremony alongside 25 other young men. He welcomed the chance to participate in his people’s traditions and felt prepared to make the transition from boyhood to manhood.

However, his mood changed during the ceremony when Chief Meligqili, the main speaker, spoke sadly of the young men, explaining that they were enslaved in their own country. The chief claimed that because their land was controlled by white men, they would never be able to govern themselves.

He went on to say that the young men’s promise would be squandered as they struggled to make a living and performed mindless chores for white men. Mandela would later say that while the chief’s words didn’t make complete sense to him at the time, they helped shape his determination for an independent South Africa.

University Life

Mandela was groomed for high office under the guardianship of Regent Jongintaba, not as a chief, but as a counselor to one. Mandela attended a Wesleyan mission school, the Clarkebury Boarding Institute, and Wesleyan College as Thembu royalty, where he later stated that he achieved academic success through “plain hard work.”

He was also very good at track and boxing. Mandela was initially mocked by his Wesleyan classmates as a “country boy,” but he eventually became friends with several students, including Mathona, his first female friend.

Mandela enrolled in the University of Fort Hare, South Africa’s only residential center of higher learning for Black people at the time, in 1939. Fort Hare was regarded as Africa’s Harvard, attracting scholars from all over Sub-Saharan Africa.

Mandela took the required courses in his first year at university, but focused on Roman-Dutch law to prepare for a career in civil service as an interpreter or clerk — regarded at the time as the best job a Black man could get.

Mandela was elected to the Student Representative Council in his second year at Fort Hare. Students had been dissatisfied with the food and the SRC’s lack of power for some time. A majority of students voted to boycott the election unless their demands were met.

Mandela resigned from his position to align with the student majority. The university expelled Mandela for the remainder of the year and gave him an ultimatum: he could return to the school if he agreed to serve on the SRC. The regent was furious when Mandela returned home, telling him unequivocally that he would have to retract his decision and return to school in the fall.

A few weeks after Mandela’s return, Regent Jongintaba announced that he had arranged for his adopted son to marry. The regent wanted to make sure Mandela’s life was properly planned, and the arrangement was within his right, according to tribal custom.

Mandela fled his home, shocked by the news, feeling trapped and convinced that he had no choice but to obey the recent order. He settled in Johannesburg, where he worked as a guard and a clerk while completing his bachelor’s degree through correspondence courses. He then enrolled in law school at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

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Anti-Apartheid Movement

Mandela became active in the anti-apartheid movement quickly, joining the African National Congress in 1942. The African National Congress Youth League was formed by a small group of young Africans within the ANC. Their goal was to turn the ANC into a mass grassroots movement that would draw strength from millions of rural peasants and working people who had no voice under the current regime.

The group specifically believed that the ANC’s old tactics of polite petitioning were ineffective. The ANC officially adopted the Youth League’s boycott, strike, civil disobedience, and non-cooperation methods in 1949, with policy goals of full citizenship, land redistribution, trade union rights, and free and compulsory education for all children.

Mandela directed nonviolent, peaceful acts of defiance against the South African government and its racist policies for 20 years, including the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People. He co-founded the law firm Mandela and Tambo with Oliver Tambo, a brilliant student he met at Fort Hare. The law firm provided unrepresented Black people with free and low-cost legal counsel.

Mandela and 150 others were arrested and charged with treason in 1956 for their political activism (they were eventually acquitted). Meanwhile, Africanists, a new breed of Black activists who believed the ANC’s pacifist approach was ineffective, were challenging the ANC.

Africanists quickly formed the Pan-Africanist Congress, which harmed the ANC; by 1959, the movement had lost much of its militant support.

Wife and Children

Mandela had three marriages and six children. In 1944, he married his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase. Madiba Thembekile (d. 1964), Makgatho (d. 2005), Makaziwe (d. 1948 at nine months old), and Maki were their four children. In 1957, the couple divorced.

Mandela married Winnie Madikizela in 1958. Before splitting up in 1996, the couple had two daughters: Zenani (Argentina’s South African ambassador) and Zindziswa (South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark).

Mandela married Graca Machel, Mozambique’s first Education Minister, two years later, in 1998, and remained with her until his death in 2013.

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Prison Years

Mandela, who had previously been committed to nonviolent protest, came to believe that armed struggle was the only way to achieve change. Mandela co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe, also known as MK, an armed offshoot of the ANC dedicated to sabotage and guerilla warfare to bring apartheid to an end in 1961.

Mandela organized a three-day national workers’ strike in 1961. The following year, he was arrested for leading the strike and sentenced to five years in prison. Mandela was tried for the second time in 1963. This time, he and ten other ANC leaders were sentenced to life in prison for political crimes such as sabotage.

Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, from November 1962 to February 1990.

For 18 of his 27 years in prison, he was imprisoned on Robben Island. During this time, he contracted tuberculosis and, as a Black political prisoner, received the worst treatment possible from prison staff. While imprisoned, Mandela was able to complete a Bachelor of Laws degree through a correspondence program with the University of London.

South African intelligence agent Gordon Winter’s 1981 memoir described a plot by the South African government to arrange Mandela’s escape in order to shoot him during the recapture; the plot was foiled by British intelligence.

Mandela remained such a powerful symbol of Black resistance that an international campaign for his release was launched, and this international groundswell of support demonstrated Mandela’s power and esteem in the global political community.

Mandela and other ANC leaders were transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in 1982, ostensibly to facilitate contact with the South African government. President P.W. Botha offered Mandela’s release in exchange for his renunciation of armed struggle in 1985; the prisoner flatly refused the offer.

F. W. de Klerk

With increasing local and international pressure for his release, the government held several talks with Mandela over the next few years, but no agreement was reached.

On February 11, 1990, Mandela’s release was finally announced after Botha suffered a stroke and was replaced by Frederik Willem de Klerk. De Klerk also lifted the ANC’s ban, relaxed restrictions on political parties, and halted executions.

When Mandela was released from prison, he immediately urged foreign powers not to ease their pressure on the South African government to implement constitutional reform. While pledging to work toward peace, he stated that the ANC’s armed struggle would continue until the Black majority was granted the right to vote.

Mandela was elected president of the African National Congress in 1991, with longtime friend and colleague Oliver Tambo serving as national chairperson.

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Nobel Peace Prize

Mandela and President de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their efforts to end apartheid in South Africa.

Following his release from prison, Mandela worked with President de Klerk to hold the country’s first multiracial elections. White South Africans were willing to share power, but many Black South Africans desired total power transfer.

The talks were frequently strained, and news of violent outbursts, including the assassination of ANC leader Chris Hani, spread throughout the country. Mandela had to strike a delicate balance between political pressure and intense negotiations in the midst of protests and armed resistance.


Negotiations between black and white South Africans succeeded, thanks in large part to the efforts of Mandela and President de Klerk: South Africa held its first democratic elections on April 27, 1994. On May 10, 1994, at the age of 77, Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s first Black president, with de Klerk as his first deputy.

President Mandela worked from 1994 to June 1999 to bring about the transition from minority rule and apartheid to Black majority rule. He used the nation’s love of sports as a springboard to promote reconciliation between white and black South Africans, encouraging Black South Africans to support the once-despised national rugby team.

South Africa made its international debut in 1995, hosting the Rugby World Cup, which increased the country’s recognition and prestige. Mandela was also given the Order of Merit that year.

Mandela worked to keep South Africa’s economy from collapsing during his presidency. The South African government funded job creation, housing, and basic health care through his Reconstruction and Development Plan.

Mandela signed into law a new constitution for the country in 1996, establishing a strong central government based on majority rule and guaranteeing both minorities’ rights and freedom of expression.

Retirement and Later Career

Mandela had stepped down from active politics by the 1999 general election. He kept a busy schedule, however, raising funds for his foundation to build schools and clinics in South Africa’s rural heartland and serving as a mediator in Burundi’s civil war.

Mandela was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001 and underwent treatment. He announced his formal retirement from public life in June 2004, at the age of 85, and returned to his native village of Qunu.

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The Elders

On July 18, 2007, Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, co-founded The Elders, a group of world leaders dedicated to working both publicly and privately to find solutions to the world’s most difficult problems. Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Li Zhaoxing, Mary Robinson, and Muhammad Yunus were among those present.

The Elders’ influence has extended throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and their actions have included promoting peace and women’s equality, calling for an end to atrocities, and supporting initiatives to address humanitarian crises and promote democracy.

In addition to advocating for peace and equality on a national and global scale, Mandela remained dedicated to the fight against AIDS in his later years. Makgatho, his son, died of the disease in 2005.


Mandela died on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95, in his Johannesburg home. After contracting a lung infection in January 2011, Mandela was briefly hospitalized in Johannesburg before undergoing stomach surgery in early 2012.

After a few days, he was released and returned to Qunu. Mandela would be hospitalized several times over the next few years, including in December 2012, March 2013, and June 2013, for additional testing and medical treatment for his recurring lung infection.

Following his hospitalization in June 2013, Machel canceled a scheduled London appearance to be by her husband’s side, and his daughter, Zenani Dlamini, flew back from Argentina to South Africa to be with her father.

South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, issued a statement in response to public concern about Mandela’s health scare in March 2013, requesting prayer: “We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for and remember our beloved Madiba and his family,” Zuma said.

Zuma issued a statement on Mandela’s legacy on the day of his death, saying, “Wherever we are in the country, wherever we are in the world, let us reaffirm his vision of a society… in which none is exploited, oppressed, or dispossessed by another.”

Movie and Books

Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, was published in 1994, much of which he had secretly written while imprisoned. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a 2013 film, was inspired by the book.

No Easy Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela: The Struggle Is My Life, and Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales are among the books he wrote about his life and struggles.

Mandela Day

Mandela’s birthday (July 18) was designated as Mandela Day in 2009, an international day to promote global peace and honor the South African leader’s legacy. According to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the annual event is intended to inspire citizens around the world to give back in the same way that Mandela has done throughout his life.

According to a statement on the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s website: “Mr. Mandela spent 67 years of his life fighting for human rights. All we ask is that everyone donates 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s to a charity of their choice or to your local community.”

Further Reading

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