The first biography of Mandela was authored by Mary Benson, based on brief interviews with him that she had conducted in the 1960s. Two authorised biographies were later produced by friends of Mandela. The first was Fatima Meer’s Higher Than Hope, which was heavily influenced by Winnie and thus placed great emphasis on Mandela’s family. The second was Anthony Sampson’s Mandela, published in 1999. Other biographies included Martin Meredith’s Mandela, first published in 1997, and Tom Lodge’s Mandela, brought out in 2006.
Since the late 1980s, Mandela’s image began to appear on a proliferation of items, among them “photographs, paintings, drawings, statues, public murals, buttons, t-shirts, refrigerator magnets, and more”, items that have been characterised as “Mandela kitsch”. Following his death, there appeared many internet memes featuring images of Mandela with his inspirational quotes superimposed onto them.
Many artists have dedicated songs to Mandela. One of the most popular was from The Special AKA who recorded the song “Free Nelson Mandela” in 1983, which Elvis Costello also recorded and had a hit with. Stevie Wonder dedicated his 1985 Oscar for the song “I Just Called to Say I Love You” to Mandela, resulting in his music being banned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
Mandela has been depicted in cinema and television on multiple occasions. He was portrayed by Danny Glover in the 1987 HBO television film Mandela. The 1997 film Mandela and de Klerk starred Sidney Poitier as Mandela, and Dennis Haysbert played him in Goodbye Bafana (2007). In the 2009 BBC telefilm Mrs Mandela, Mandela was portrayed by David Harewood, and Morgan Freeman portrayed him in Invictus (2009). Terrence Howard portrayed him in the 2011 film Winnie Mandela. He was portrayed by Idris Elba in the 2013 film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. Amid international pressure and growing fear of a racial civil war, President F. W. de Klerk released him in 1990. Mandela and de Klerk negotiated an end to apartheid and organised the 1994 multiracial general election in which Mandela led the ANC to victory and became President. Leading a broad coalition government which promulgated a new constitution, Mandela emphasised reconciliation between the country’s racial groups and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. While retaining the former government’s economic liberalism, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial and served as Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999. He declined a second presidential term and in 1999 was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela became an elder statesman and focused on charitable work, combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Although critics on the right denounced him as a communist terrorist and those on the radical left deemed him too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid’s supporters, he gained international acclaim for his activism. He received more than 250 honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Soviet Lenin Peace Prize. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata (“Father”), and described as the “Father of the Nation”.
Image: South Africa The Good News / www.sagoodnews.co.za [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons