Tag Archives: Johannesburg

Nelson Mandela vs. Professor Peters on Wisdom + Money!

Take a look at the viral confrontation between Nelson Mandela and Professor Peters, and find out what really happened!


Claim : Nelson Mandela Schooled Professor Peters On Wisdom + Money!

This viral confrontation between Nelson and Professor Peters have gone viral on WhatsApp, and social media platforms, for many years. It’s very long, so feel free to skip to the next section for the facts…

When Nelson Mandela was studying law at the University, a white professor, whose last name was Peters, disliked him intensely.

One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room when Mandela came along with his tray & sat next to the professor.

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Truth : Mandela + Professor Peters Confrontation Did NOT Happen

As hilarious as the viral confrontation between Nelson Mandela and Professor Peters is, it never happened, and here are there reasons why…

Fact #1 : Nelson Mandela Studied Law From 1943-1949

Nelson Mandela studied at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, from 1943 to 1949.

At that time, Mandela was the first African law student at Wits, which only recently opened its doors to students of all races.

Fact #2 : There Is No Record Of Professor Peters

There is no record of a Professor Peters teaching law at the University of Witwatersrand. Neither were there any Mr. Peters, or even a student named Peters in his class.

In the following 1949 photo of Nelson Mandela’s final year law class, we can see that none of them are named Peters:

Back: A.K.I. Vahed, Nelson Mandela, Norbert Magzamen, Max Levenberg
Third Row: Henry Nathanson, R.N. Bhoolia, Johann Möller, J.A.E. ‘Balie’ de Klerk, Harry Schwarz
Second Row: Julian Phillips, Mrs Stutzen, Unity Ann Victor
Front: Daphne de Klerk (née Clark), Ellison Kahn, F.R. Hahlo, J.E. Scholtens, Exton M. Burchell

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Nelson Mandela at University of the Witswatersrand, 1944

Fact #3 : There Is No Record Of Such A Confrontation

Mandela’s authoritative autobiography – Long Walk to Freedom, did not mention any confrontation with a white professor called Mr. Peters. Neither do the many biographies written about Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela only recounted his interactions with the Dean of Law – Professor H.R. Hahlo at University of Witwatersrand (Wits). However, those interactions were nowhere along the lines of the viral Mr. Peters confrontation.

In 1943, Nelson  at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, which only recently opened its doors to students of all races. Mandela was treated as “an alien”, rather than with the respect and consideration shown to other students.

He recounted how the Dean of Law, Professor H.R. Hahlo, said that the African mind was “not suited to the study and practice of law”.

His view was that law was a social science and that women and Africans were not disciplined enough to master its intricacies.
– Nelson Mandela in his autobiography

Nelson Mandela sat for the final LLB examinations on three occasions, from 1947 to 1949, but failed to qualify for the degree, because the stringent rules was applied particularly stringently. On his last try, Mandela was refused to write three supplementary examination papers on the grounds that the rules only allowed for two.

We also know that Mandela applied to Wits to write his final LLB examinations in late 1974 while he was imprisoned on Robben Island. His application form was intercepted by the Department of Prisons, which had earlier obstructed his attempt to complete a London University LLB.

Only in 1989, a year before his release, did Nelson Mandela qualify for his LLB through the correspondence university, the University of South Africa (UNISA) – 46 years after he started his legal studies at the University of Witwatersrand.

However, Nelson Mandela never mentioned a Professor Peters, Mr. Peters, or such a confrontation with any of his lecturers.

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Fact #4 : Gandhi Had Same Confrontation With Professor Peters!

Amazingly, Mahatma Gandhi who studied at the University College London (UCL) in October, 1888, had the exact, same viral confrontation with Professor Peters!

Needless to say – that is because this story was completely made up, and people are just swapping out the name of the “genius” with whoever they want.

It was Gandhi earlier, Mandela today, and probably tomorrow, it will be Albert Einstein confronting the same Professor Peters the exactly same way!

This is ultimately just an inspirational but FAKE STORY misappropriating a dead famous person’s name to make it go viral, while ensuring he is not around to dispute it.

It is good for a chuckle or two, but always with the understanding that this incident never happened, and is a complete lie.

Please help us FIGHT FAKE NEWS, by sharing this fact check out, so other people won’t be fooled by it!


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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.


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