Mandela's birth name was Rolihlahla. In his Xhosa tribe, the name means pulling the branch of a tree or troublemaker
. The name "Nelson" was given to him by his teacher on his first day of elementary school. It's not clear
why she chose that particular name. It was the 1920s, and African children were given English names so colonial masters could pronounce them easily.
He had a part in Spike Lee's 1992 biopic
"Malcolm X." At the very end of the movie, he plays a teacher reciting Malcolm X's famous speech to a room full of Soweto school kids. But the pacifist Mandela wouldn't say "by any means necessary."
So Lee cut back to footage of Malcolm X to close out the film.
3. There's a woodpecker named after him
From Cape Town to California, streets named after Mandela abound. But he's also been the subject of some rather unusual tributes
. Scientists have named a prehistoric woodpecker after him: Australopicus nelsonmandelai. In 1973, the physics institute at Leeds University named a nuclear particle the 'Mandela particle.'
4. He married a first lady
Before tying the knot with Mandela on his 80th birthday, Graça Machel
was married to Mozambique President Samora Machel. Her marriage to Mandela after her husband's death means she has been the first lady of two nations.
5. He was a master of disguise
When Mandela was eluding authorities during his fight against apartheid, he disguised himself in various ways, including as a chauffeur. The press nicknamed him "the Black Pimpernel" because of his police evasion tactics. "I became a creature of the night. I would keep to my hideout during the day, and would emerge to do my work when it became dark," he says in his biography, "Long Walk to Freedom."
6. A bloody sport intrigued him
Besides politics, M