Happy Birthday, Madiba!


South Africa’s iconic hero of freedom and democracy, Nelson Mandela, turns 88 today. Happy birthday, Madiba! He has been showered with tributes and praise from well-wishers across the globe, and is said to be expecting a restful day in his Qunu home, which will likely be the scene of a joyful party this afternoon.

Where in the world is Qunu? Qunu is in the Eastern Cape Province’s Wild Coast, and is Mandela’s childhood home. It’s now the home of the Nelson Mandela National Museum, too. Its pronunciation starts with a palatal click, like the sound of a champagne cork popping, and follows with a more conventional “noo”, like this: !OO-noo.

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The word “Madiba”, by the way, refers to Mandela’s Xhosa clan name, and is the term of affection of choice for South Africans. It’s pronounced mah-DEE-bah.