From a CNN piece on “Nelson Mandela: 10 surprising facts you probably didn’t know“:
- He lived up to his name: 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 cameo in a Spike Lee film: He had a big 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.
- He was on the U.S. terror watch list: Mandela wasn’t removed from the U.S. terror watch list until 2008 — at age 89. He and other members of the African National Congress were placed on it because of their militant fight against apartheid.
Over at The New Statesman is an article on “Why Mandela’s Communist Party membership is important“:
On the day of Nelson Mandela’s death the South African Communist Party chose to reveal a fact that it had long denied: that he was a party member. Indeed, at the time of his arrest he was on the Central Committee. The statement read: “At his arrest in August 1962, Nelson Mandela was not only a member of the then underground South African Communist Party, but was also a member of our Party’s Central Committee… After his release from prison in 1990, Cde Madiba became a great and close friend of the communists till his last days.”