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AP

Former South African President Nelson Mandela looks on during The Mandela Rhodes Foundation 90 birthday celebration for the former president at one of his residence in Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

AS AN entertainment reporter I have noticed over the years that any international celebrity success is measured by whether or not they get to see Nelson Mandela when they visit here.

I know this sounds absurd but if Michael Jackson by some miracle were to rise from his grave and decide to visit SA, we all know Madiba wouldn’t mind sharing a cup of coffee with him.

But on the other hand Lil’ Wayne or Justin Bieber can’t get the same privilege.

My point? Well, Nelson Mandela may have sacrificed himself for SA, but the world was watching and he got international respect for his efforts.

Like with any good deed, many things were made in his name. Bridges, roads, halls across Africa are named after him.

Books, plays and films were also made to celebrate his selflessness.

Speaking of movies, the most recent one was Invictus, a film that portrayed the role that Mandela played in aiding the SA rugby team, the Springboks, win the Rugby World Cup.

Morgan Freeman was in the lead role.

That is just one of the many things that were made for Mandela.

Coming to your screens this weekend on History Channel is Madiba: The Life And Times Of Nelson Mandela.

With a title like that, and considering extensive self authored projects like The Long Walk To Freedom, one can only wonder what this documentary has to offer that we don’t already know.

No disrespect to the Mandela name but in 2012 you would have to be immensely gifted to come up with a Mandela story that we do not already know.

For instance we have Mandela (1996), Discovery Channel’s Mandela’s Fight For Freedom (1995), Life And Times Of Nelson Mandela, Free At Last (2010) and these are all different accounts of how our dear leader led by example in the fight against apartheid.

Let’s say for interest’s sake you have watched all the listed titles, what are the chances that the History Channel’s version will be any different? Very slim.

Also of major interest is the fact that most of the titles mentioned above are made by foreign film-makers who were not in the country when Mandela was actually fighting for racial equality.

It becomes something of a “remote controlled” study for them as they come in and investigate what happened.

It also so happens that actor Idris Elba is preparing to star as Nelson Mandela in yet another autobiographical movie.

Yes, I am sure by now you get my point. If these film-makers cared about how SA politically evolved then we would have a number of other projects which looked into the life and times of names like OR Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Steve Biko and the rest of the liberation heroes.

But perhaps their stories are not as sensational as Madiba’s long-term imprisonment at Robben Island which is well-known worldwide.

Watch and see if Madiba: The Life And Times Of Nelson Mandela is any different from what you already know.

• The doccie airs on The History Channel (Channel 254) at 8.30pm this Saturday.


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