‘Madiba’: 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Nelson Mandela (Photos)

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BET’s “Madiba” will tell the life of the legendary anti-apartheid revolutionary and global civil rights icon Nelson Mandela. But here are seven facts about the South African leader that you may not have known.

He was a movie star

Kinda …

Nelson Mandela had a cameo in Spike Lee’s 1992 “Malcolm X.” At the end of the film, he is shown reciting Malcolm’s “By any means necessary” speech to a Soweto classroom, but the activist would not say those famous four words so Lee cut to footage of Malcolm X delivering the phrase.

He has a lot of awards

Like at least 250 a lot. In addition to his 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, Mandela has honorary degrees from multiple universities and even has a European Footballer of the Year award dedicated to him.

He was also the last person to be awarded the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union.

He has his own holiday

In November 2009, the United Nations declared that Nelson Mandela‘s birthday, July 18, would be known as Nelson Mandela International Day.

He refused release from prison

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years before he walked free, but he could’ve gotten out earlier — except he didn’t want to.

The South African government had offered him freedom based on certain conditions that he didn’t accept.

He said: “I cannot sell my birthright nor am I prepared to sell the birthright of the people to be free.”

He was a master of disguise

Mandela was nicknamed the Black Pimpernel for his ability to escape capture.

He disguised himself as an unkempt man, a chauffeur, a chef or a gardener.

In his autobiography, he says: “Just as there is a way to walk in a room in order to make yourself stand out, there is a way of walking and behaving that makes you inconspicuous.”

He was supposed to get an arranged marriage

But he ran away.

After his father died, he was adopted by a high-ranking Thembu regent who wanted him to have a role in tribal leadership.

However, once Mandela learned that his guardian had arranged a marriage for him, he ran away to Johannesburg and worked as a night watchman.

His name wasn’t always Nelson

Mandela’s birth name was Rolihlahla Mandela, but when he went to a local missionary school a teacher gave him the name Nelson because it was common to give African children English names.

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