Ten things you didn’t know about Nelson Mandela

By Geisha Bar

1. Mandela’s real name was Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela, however when he was seven years old, a schoolteacher gave him the name “Nelson”, because everyone had trouble pronouncing “Rolihlahla”.
2. Among his favourite foods were sour milk, oxtail stew and tripe.
3. In 1941, Mandela ran away from home with his cousin Justice, because they both wanted to avoid being entered into arranged marriages.
4. Mandela was known by South African authorities as “The Black Pimpernel” (a small flower), due to his cunning ability to disguise himself, usually as a chef, a chauffeur or a gardener.
5. Mandela was on the US terror watch list until he was 89 years old! He had been added to the list because of his militant struggle against apartheid.
6. Years of forced work in prison without glasses resulted in Mandela’s eyesight being permanently damaged due to sun glare.
7. Mandela was a fantastic ballroom dancer.
8. Stevie Wonder’s music was banned from all South African radio stations because he dedicated his 1985 Academy Award win for “I Just Called To Say I Love You” to Nelson Mandela in his speech.
9. Mandela had a role in Spike Lee’s 1992 film “Malcolm X”, as a teacher who reads a famous Malcolm X speech to a group of schoolchildren. Lee had to cut some of the footage because Mandela refused to say “by any means necessary”, due to his pacifist ways.
10. Mandela was circumcised at sixteen years old, describing the pain as like having “fire shooting through my veins … The pain was so intense that I buried my chin in my chest. Many seconds seemed to pass before I remembered the cry, and then I recovered and called out, ‘Ndiyindoda!’ [I am a man!]”. Ouch!!