Nelson Mandela is one of the most iconic human rights activists, political leaders, and philanthropists in the world. He was given numerous awards, mentioned in history books, and is the face of the revolution. But there are still facts about him that the public does not know about.
Here are the 10 facts about Nelson Mandela that you probably do not know about:
Meaning of his name
Mandela's birth name is Rolihlahla. In the Xhosa tribe, which he was a part of, it means pulling the branch of a tree or a "troublemaker." The name Nelson was given to him by his elementary school teacher although no one knows why she picked the name. In the 1920s, African children were given English names so that colonial masters could pronounce the names easily.
Mandela's movie cameo
Mandela has a part in the 1992 biopic "Malcolm X" directed by Spike Lee. At the end of the movie, he played a teacher reciting the famous speech of Malcolm X to a room full of Soweto children. But Mandela, who is a pacifist, would not say "by any means necessary" so Lee had to cut back to the footage of Malcolm X to close it out.
A woodpecker named
Mandela There is numerous streets named after Mandela, from California to Cape Town, South Africa. But that is not all, in 1973, scientists have named a prehistoric woodpecker after him. The woodpecker's scientific name is Australopicus nelsonmandelai and the physics institute at Leeds University named it the "Mandela particle."
Mandela married a first lady
Graca Machel was married to President Samora Machel of Mozambique. After he died, she married Mandela when he was 80-years-old. That makes Machel the first lady of two nations.
Master of disguise
When Mandela was hiding from authorities, he disguised himself in different ways. He even posed as a chauffeur. The media called him the "Black Pimpernel" because of the tactics that he used to evade police. In his biography "Long Walk to Freedom," he said that he became a creature of the night. He would be in his hideout during the day and would go out at night.
Passion for boxing
Aside from politics, Mandela was a massive boxing fan. In his biography, he said that he did not like the violence of the sport, but he was interested in the science of it. He was interested in knowing how the body moves for protection and how a person quickly plans to attack. He loves the footwork and how fast a person can retreat.
Love for simple dishes
Mandela had been invited to so many dinners and parties by world leaders, but he what he loved most was simple traditional meals. One of his favorite meals was tripe which is served in African cultures. Gave up his day job Mandela studied law at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He was the one who opened the nation's first Black law firm in 1952.
Terror watch list
Mandela was in the US terror watch list until 2009, and he was 89-years-old when his name was removed from the list. He and other members of the African National Congress were placed on the list because of their fight against apartheid.
Inspiration from a poem
While he was locked up, Mandela would read "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley to his fellow prisoners. The poem was about never giving up and it resonated with him. The poem became more popular after the release of the movie "Invictus", which starred actor Morgan Freeman as Mandela.