Naomi Campbell, Zindzi Mandela Reflect On Nelson Mandela And “Long Walk To Freedom”
By Brandon Robinson
Nelson Mandela will forever be respected for his bravery, peace, resiliency, and honor. He and his wife Winnie Mandela fought injustices in South Africa and put their lives and reputation on the line, and with the passing of the anti-apartheid leader as well as South Africa’s 20th anniversary of freedom coming upon us in 2014, the release of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was right on time.
The biopic was directed by Emmy nominated director Justin Chadwick and embodies the struggle the Mandelas faced during the apartheid era in South Africa. The film stars British actor Idris Elba, who plays the role of Mandela, and Naomie Harris who plays his wife Winnie. The film highlights Mandela’s journey from his childhood growing up in a village in Africa through the later years of his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
No film could totally portray the struggle that Nelson Mandela faced, but at the 2013 South South Awards in New York, Nelson Mandela’s daughter Zindzi Mandela told us she thought Chadwick did a good job making her father’s journey appear realistic on-screen:
“What I liked about the Long Walk to Freedom is that it talks to my father as a boy who grew up in an African Village and the impact that he had in the international sphere on the global level.”
The film stems from Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, and at a production cost of $35 million is the most expensive piece ever produced by a South African film company.
After spending 27 years of his life in prison at Robben Island Prison in Capetown, South Africa, Mandela was released early from his imprisonment in 1990. He was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and became president of South Africa. He served in that role from 1994 to 1999 and was the first black South African to do so.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell, a family friend to the Mandela’s, is happy that a film like this was made. Reflecting on the former president, she told us:
“What comes to mind is truly, truly a unique human being that has sacrificed a lot for others.”
The biopic progresses well after Mandela’s imprisonment and depicts the sojourner for equality that Mandela was. The film not only shows how much racism annoyed him, but it also allows viewers to see how Mandela even handled politics in prison. One notable scene is when Mandela convinces the jail warden to give prison inmates in Robben Island pants instead of shorts.
Elba recently told the Los Angeles Times that he used his late father as a muse for the Mandela role, remarking“my dad had a big silver ball of hair and Mandela has that, so that was my framework.” Zindizi seemed to appreciate the actor’s muse telling us:
“I always joke and say that I get to call Idris Elba ‘daddy’ anytime. He brought so much depth to the role he played―and I liked that he even tried to emulate his accent.”
Zindzi and the rest of the Mandela family will no doubt appreciate this biopic that much more as they morn the recent passing of Nelson Mandela.
Brandon Robinson is a contributor to Madame Noire. He’s a digital journalist who covers pop culture and sports. You can find his work in Ebony, SLAM, The Source, VIBE, Regal Radio and CBS Interactive. He is also a multimedia journalism lecturer at NJIT in Newark, NJ. You can follow him on Twitter @Scoop B and see more of his work here.