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Why Nelson Mandela is called Madiba
Shortly after Nelson Mandela's death Thursday, his clan name Madiba emerged in condolences around the world and became a trending topic on Twitter.
The clan or family name represents a person's ancestry. The meaning is deeper than a surname and is used as a sign of respect and affection. The origin of Madiba comes from a chief who ruled in the 18th century, according to the
Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Madiba would be used in "an intimate context," said Richard Pithouse, a politics professor at Rhodes University in South Africa. When Mandela entered school, a teacher gave him the name Nelson. It was customary for Africans to also give children English names back then.
TIMELINE: Nelson Mandela through the years
But the wider public had also taken to referring to Mandela as Madiba.
Fellow South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu said, "Like a most precious diamond honed deep beneath the surface of the earth, the Madiba who emerged from prison in January 1990 was virtually flawless."
Tutu said Friday that Madiba's legacy would live on in South Africa.
"People would not tend to use that name if they didn't have positive feelings for him," Pithouse said.
MORE: 9 lesser-known facts about Mandela
The use of Madiba could also have a political meaning, said Peter Alegi, a professor at Michigan State University specializing in South African history.
"Using the Madiba name is to reclaim his African-ness and to downplay the Nelson part, which is a colonial legacy that unfortunately shackled much of the African continent for a long, long time," Alegi said.
PHOTOS: Nelson Mandela's signature style IN THEIR OWN WORDS: South Africans reflect on Mandela's impact
Madiba is a term used for older people, particularly men, fitting for a man called the father of the South African nation.
Getty Images By Juergen Schdeberg, AP
1918: Born Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18 in Transkei, South Africa, to Nonqaphi Nosekeni and Henry Mgadla Mandela, chief counselor to the paramount chief of the Thembu, a subclan of the Xhosa tribe. After his father dies in 1927, he?s placed under the care of his uncle, a tribal chieftain. He is ?given the British name ?Nelson? at school.
1940: Expelled from University College of Fort Hare, Africa's equivalent of Harvard, after leading a strike with Oliver Tambo, a future African National Congress president.
1942: Earns a bachelor?s degree through the University of South Africa. Enrolls in law school.
1943 : Joins the African National Congress (ANC), dedicated to non-violent protest of anti-black laws.
1944: Marries Evelyn Ntoko Mase, a cousin of Walter Sisulu, the ANC leader. They have four children before divorcing in 1957. Forms the ANC Youth League with Oliver Tambo and Sisulu. Elected president of the ANC Youth League in 1951.
1948: Leads a campaign of civil disobedience after the Afrikaner-dominated National Party is elected and legalizes the apartheid policy of racial separation
1952: Leads the non-violent resistance campaign, encouraging people to break racial separation laws. White officials ban him from public activities. Along with Oliver Tambo, he opens the country?s first black law firm.
By Schalk van Zuydam, AP
Arrested and convicted
1962: Arrested for treason.
1963: Stands trial with fellow ANC and Spear of the Nation leaders for plotting to overthrow the government by violence. His statement from the dock ends with these words:?I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
1964: Convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison
. Imprisoned on Robben Island, dubbed the "hellhole of apartheid." AP/Argus
1973: Refuses conditional release until the apartheid laws are lifted.
1976: A famous photograph from the Soweto student uprising shows Hector Peterson's mortally wounded body being carried in the arms of a friend. Nationwide rioting broke out, sparking international condemnation of the South African government.
1984: Rejects an offer to leave prison and settle in the black tribal ''homeland'' of Transkei.
1985: Refuses release on the condition that he renounce violence.
By Trevor Samson, AFP
Freed from prison, tours USA
February: Released from prison by President F.W. de Klerk, who legalizes the ANC.
March: Elected ANC deputy president.
June: Tours the USA.
1991: The government, the ANC and other groups begin formal negotiations on a constitution.
By Jon Eeg, AP
Nobel Prize winner, elected president
July 4: Receives the Liberty Medal with F.W. de Klerk, the white president who released him, in a ceremony outside Philadelphia's Independence Hall.
December: Shares the Nobel Peace Prize with F.W. de Klerk.
April: Votes for the first time in his life.
May: Sworn in as South Africa's first black president.
December: Little, Brown publishes his autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom." Mandela wrote sections of it during his 27 years in prison.
1995: Awarded the high honor of Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II. By Adil Bradlow, AP
March: Divorces Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
December: Signs South Africa's new constitution into law in the black township of Sharpeville, where a ?massacre in 1960 galvanized the anti-apartheid movement.
1998: Marries his third wife, Gra?a Machel, the former first lady of Mozambique.
By Jean-Marc Bouju, AP
Retires from politics
1999: Steps down as president and hands the reigns to Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, who is inaugurated as president in June.
2001: Treated for prostate cancer.
Pool photo by Jack Hill
Retires from public life
2004: Retires from public life in June, just before his 86th birthday, saying, "Don't call me, I'll call you."
2005: Son with his first wife, Makgatho Mandela, dies of AIDS at age 54.
2007: Forms the Elders, a group of former world leaders; who advise governments on conflict resolution and human rights.
Pictured: British Foreign Secretary William Hague, second from left, ?meets with three of the "Elders," former Irish president Mary Robinson, left, former president Jimmy Carter and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, right.
By Lionel Healing for AFP/Getty Images
2008: Celebrates his 90th birthday in July. President George W. Bush's birthday message applauds Mandela as "a great example of courage, hope and the power of freedom."
Triumph and tragedy
May: Formally presented with the FIFA World Cup trophy before it leaves on a tour of South Africa.
June: Great-granddaughter Zenani, 13, is killed in a car accident on the way home from the World Cup opening celebrations.
In frail health
January: Hospitalized with an acute lung infection.
June: Meets with first lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by her mother and daughters, at his home in Houghton, South Africa.
January: The African National Congress, Africa's oldest liberation movement, marks its 100th anniversary. "I would be nothing without the ANC," Mandela said at a party in 2008 marking his 90th birthday.
February: Admitted to the hospital and released the next day.
December 5, 2013
Dies at his Johannesburg home at 95.
nelsonmandela.org; nobleprize.org; biography.com; whoswhosa.co.za; USA TODAY archive
Anne R. Carey, Tory Hargro USA TODAY