New movie to star first SA actor to play Madiba
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.”