Father of the nation will be back to inspire new generation

Nelson Mandela revisits Robben Island. | JÜRGEN SCHADEBERG

Nelson Mandela revisits Robben Island. | JÜRGEN SCHADEBERG

Published May 13, 2024


Durban — Next Freedom Day, South Africans will be able to hear again the impactful voice and words of the late Tata Madiba.

A series titled Mandela: Life will be a five-part documentary of Nelson Mandela’s monumental life and his achievements throughout South Africa’s trying times.

The series has been in development for two years and will be ready for global release on April 27, 2025.

The project, which has been authorised by The Nelson Mandela Foundation, will track his extraordinary life through the most dramatic period in South African history, “1984 to 1994, the deadly decade”, a decade that began with Mandela in prison, and ended with him being elected president of South Africa after the country’s first democratic election.

The series aims to be the most rigorously researched, in-depth and personal long-form documentary portrait of his life ever produced.

It will be directed by acclaimed film-maker Mandla Dube, who was given exclusive permission, alongside Blackwell and Ruth, publisher of Nelson Mandela’s five books, and co-produced by Pambilimedia.

The team will recreate Mandela’s voice from his personal archive. It will also feature previously unreleased material and unpublished letters written by him from prison.

A letter written to Winnie Mandela in April 1969. | NELSON MANDELA FOUNDATION

The main goal of the series is to inform the new generations of Mandela’s past struggles and how he inspired a change in not only South Africa but also the world. The series makers hope the dramatic landscape of apartheid South Africa will shape the minds of the new generation into creating a more compassionate and inclusive world than that of past South Africa.

“This will be the first documentary or documentary series that we’ve authorised as the Nelson Mandela Foundation and in revisiting his life, especially with the challenge of surfacing his voice, we have authorised the use of archival materials to translate what he wrote to himself into a voice that people can hear.

“This series allows us to share with the world the contents of archival material that very often we’ve been searching for many years, and have now found; content in Nelson Mandela’s own words which is very rich and offers new insights into his life.

“One of the values that informs the project is respect for Nelson Mandela’s wish that we interrogate the archive and interrogate his life. Over many years I would go to him with materials that I’d found difficult and ask, ‘Are you sure you’re comfortable that this can be put in the public domain?’

“And he would say to me and also to my colleagues: ‘Decisions on public access should be handled by professionals. It’s your task.’ And the most important directive he gave us was: ‘You don’t need to protect me’,” said Verne Harris, acting chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Nelson Mandela and Verne Harris. Picture: Nelson Mandela Foundation

Kneo Mokgopa, the narrative development manager of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, also feels this series is important for highlighting Mandela’s extraordinary life.

“This is a precious story. It’s important. It’s needed. Especially in these times when we’re looking around the world and leadership is missing, here we have a story that tells us how incredible leadership can come from the most dire circumstances.”

Dube agrees with the sentiment of having Mandela’s voice echo throughout the series.

“We are decolonising the lens and the framework of who Nelson Mandela was. There are certain nuances and subtleties that we haven’t seen in films made by international film-makers about Nelson Mandela, because there’s a certain voice that comes with being a child of the soil.”

Sunday Tribune