South African Indian filmmaker’s special present for Mandela

July 18th, 2008 - 1:49 pm ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, July 18 (IANS) As million of tributes continue to pour in from all over the world for his 90th birthday Friday, there is another special treat in store for iconic leader Nelson Mandela - a film produced by a local Indian filmmaker as a tribute. Internationally acclaimed producer Anant Singh will share his feature length film with millions of South Africans when it has its world premiere on one of the television channels of the South African Broadcasting Corporation Friday evening.

“Viva Madiba: A Hero For All Seasons” is a celebration of Nelson Mandela’s epic life and his status as an international icon.

“In this, the year of his 90th birthday, he remains a man at the centre of attention, not only in South Africa, but around the world as a moral leader, an elder statesman and an exceptional human being,” said a statement from Singh’s company VideoVision.

“Viva” is a long-accepted struggle phrase for ‘long live’; while ‘Madiba’ is the name by which Mandela is affectionately known to millions.

The film takes one on a journey behind the headlines and away from the public eye and looks at Mandela - who led South Africa to a peaceful transition from decades of apartheid oppression by a white minority as its first democratically-elected president - as a loyal friend, a dependable comrade, a trusted confidant, a respected mentor, and a man who has touched and transformed countless lives.

“For the first time his complete story is being told - a life of struggle, humanity, destiny and greatness is recalled and celebrated by those who knew him best and who worked with him in the quest to break the chains of oppression, taking us beyond the political and into the personal,” the statement said.

The programme features exclusive interviews with politicians, close friends and comrades of Madiba, among whom are Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Oliver Tambo, George Bizos, Ahmed Kathrada, Pik Botha, Dorothy Masuka, Nthato Motlana, Cyril Ramaphosa, Helen Suzman, Zolani Mkiva, Jessie Duarte, Francois Pienaar, Sydney Kentridge, Mac Maharaj, Christo Brand and Gill Marcus.

Breaking from the tradition of hosting premieres at cinemas, Singh said showing the film on free-to-air television on the national public broadcaster was his way of thanking Mandela for having been a mentor to him and a personal friend for many years.

Singh also shared the personal message that he had sent to Mandela on the special occasion: “Our Dearest Madiba, we are fortunate to have you in our lives and to be celebrating your 90th birthday with you.

“We appreciate and salute the sacrifices you made for the freedom of our nation and your undying commitment to the liberation of the people of our country, to the less fortunate young people and the sufferers of HIV/AIDS.

“You are a remarkable human being. Thank you for being a friend to me and my family.

“We wish you long life, good health and happiness always.”

While the offices of the various foundations he has established were overwhelmed by the delivery of gifts and good wishes, including lengthy rolls of paper signed by hundreds of thousands of people at shopping centres over the past month, Mandela and his wife Graca Machel were Friday enjoying a quiet day with their family at Mandela’s traditional home in the rural village of Qunu in Eastern Cape province before joining about 500 guests there for a party in the evening.

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