New movie to star first SA ac­tor to play Madiba

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - THERESA TAY­LOR

THE FIRST South African ac­tor to play Nel­son Man­dela has been an­nounced – and it’s Tu­misho Masha in the movie Man­dela’s Gun.

The film be­gins shoot­ing in South Africa this week.

Masha said the role was an hon­our he would ac­cept with both hands, but that there was a lot of pres­sure on him to do jus­tice to the role.

The movie tracks an eight- month win­dow in Man­dela’s life in 1962. It was a po­lit­i­cal thriller year for South Africa, when the me­dia at home were warn­ing that the Black Pim­per­nel was set to re­turn.

Man­dela was tour­ing African states, learn­ing the guer­rilla war­fare he hoped to bring home. In Ethiopia he was pre­sented with a semi- au­to­matic Makarov pis­tol, re­port­edly on the in­struc­tions of em­peror Haile Se­lassie.

When Man­dela re­turned to ANC hide­out Liliesleaf farm, he buried the gun. He was ar­rested shortly af­ter­wards, then im­pris­oned.

The film is a fea­ture doc­u­men­tary and will com­bine acted con­tent with ar­chive ma­te­rial and snip­pets of in­ter­views with peo­ple from around Africa who met Man­dela on his jour­ney.

Masha said it was an as­pect of Man­dela’s life with which many were un­fa­mil­iar. “I think that we have all seen and read a num­ber of books about Mr Nel­son Man­dela the great states­man. But there is an as­pect of the story of the man that we are go­ing to be con­cen­trat­ing on,” he said.

Arts and Cul­ture Min­is­ter Paul Mashatile said it fas­ci­nated him be­cause it was an op­por­tu­nity to tell Man­dela’s story from be­fore he went to Robben Is­land. It had con­cerned him in the past that movies made in South Africa, about South Africa, had not starred South African ac­tors.

“If we don’t give our own a chance, they won’t reach that level,” he said.

Di­rec­tor John Irvin said he had had an on­go­ing in­ter­est in South Africa since the age of six or seven. “With a bit of luck, I’ve got a few more films to make. And I want them to be im­por­tant films,” he said.

But he be­lieved this film would be one of his great­est chal­lenges in a long time.

Pro­ducer Claire Evans said it was sig­nif­i­cant that Man­dela had cho­sen to carry this gun back to South Africa, even though it would put him at greater risk.

The team, which in­cludes South African pro­duc­tion com­pany DV8 FILMS, has spent the past three years trav­el­ling to coun­tries Man­dela vis­ited, to col­lect in­ter­views. Evans said: “It’s an ex­tra­or­di­nary story of African unity, of coun­tries try­ing to help bring about a lib­er­a­tion strug­gle.”

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