Mandela was born in Mvezo, a small, isolated Thembu village on the Mbashe River near Umtata, the Transkei capital. The Transkei is a land of sparkling streams and rounded green mountains in today's eastern South Africa. An area as large as Switzerland, the Transkei was home to the Xhosa people before whites arrived in the seventeenth century. The Thembu form one of seven groups that make up the Xhosa nation.
Mandela's father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, gave him the first name Rolihlahla, and he got