The term “Mandela Effect” was first coined in 2009 by Fiona Broome when she created a website to detail her observance of the phenomenon. Broome was at a conference talking with other people about how she remembered the tragedy of former South African president Nelson Mandela’s death in a South African prison in the 1980s.
However, Nelson Mandela did not die in the 1980s in a prison—he passed away in 2013. As Broome began to talk to other people about her memories, she learned that she was not alone. Others remembered seeing news coverage of his death as well as a speech by his widow.
Broome was shocked that such a large mass of people could remember the same identical event in such detail when it never happened. Encouraged by her book publisher, she began her website to discuss what she called the Mandela Effect and other incidents like it.