And Mandela never got to see the finished product. Mandela died on December 5th of 2013, mere days after the films premiere in South Africa. The U.S. wide release came on Christmas, while the world was still mourning the loss of this influential man. Of course, it goes without saying that the death of Mandela raised the profile of his biopic to a considerable degree. In fact, if you ask Nikki Finke , the movies bolstered chances at a few Oscar nods are all that matters about Mandelas passing. But I digress. Not to sound insensitive, but Mandelas heyday was long before my time, and I was barely out of diapers when his life imprisonment was prematurely ended.
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Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid icon and father of modern South Africa, dies
When he returned home later that year, he was arrested and charged with illegal exit of the country and incitement to strike. Mandela represented himself at the trial and was briefly imprisoned before being returned to court. In 1964, after the famous Rivonia trial, he was sentenced to life in prison for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government. At the trial, instead of testifying, he opted to give a speech that was more than four hours long, and ended with a defiant statement. “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination,” he said. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” His next stop was the Robben Island prison, where he spent 18 of his 27 years in detention. He described his early days there as harsh. “There was a lot of physical abuse, and many of my colleagues went through that humiliation,” he said. One of those colleagues was Khehla Shubane, 57, who was imprisoned in Robben Island during Mandela’s last years there. Though they were in different sections of the prison, he said, Mandela was a towering figure. “He demanded better rights for us all in prison. The right to get more letters, get newspapers, listen to the radio, better food, right to study,” Shubane said.
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