We were so lucky to be invited by Lord Hughes to the House of Commons to watch a pre- screening of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom because my husband was a ANC freedom fighter when he was a young man.
It was a sombre event because Nelson Mandela had died only a couple of days before, but it was a fitting tribute to this great man.
We watched Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom in the Grand Committee Room, which was the very room where Nelson Mandela spoke on his first visit to London after his release from prison. We watched the film with other people who had fought against apartheid in different ways. One of the film’s producers introduced the film. We were a select and very special group.
The film isn’t a political documentary, and therefore does not go into details about ANC politics, the Communist Party alliance; it doesn’t even mention that Mandela was a leading member of the Communist Party at the time of his arrest. We cannot truly expect a film to do justice to the life of such a great man as Mandela in just 150 minutes, and this was not the aim of this film.
The film’s intention was to show Nelson Mandela’s life on a very personal level through his relationship with his wife Winnie. It is a very powerful and tragic love story. It is a moving account of how their loving relationship was eventually torn apart by hatred, fear and cruelty.
The film graphically shows the incredible amount of personal suffering and loss Nelson, Winnie, and their children endured throughout their lives.
Mandela: Long Road to Freedom is an extremely touching and moving film. Idris Elba is superb in the lead role and has been nominated for the best performance by an actor in a motion picture drama in the Golden Globe 2014 Awards.
Naomie Harris was brilliant too and should also have been nominated for an award. She was strong enough to hold her own, and acting with Idris Elba really showed her amazing talent. She helped us understand how much strength and courage Winnie needed during all the long and hard years that Mandela was in prison.
Winnie was just as much of a victim as her husband, for example, after they had arrested her husband, she was torn from her children and put in prison and solitary confinement for 16 months. The aim here was just to persecute Mandela. It was a truly appalling act of cruelty.
Mandela served 27 years imprisonment initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. The film goes on to tell what happened to him and Winnie after his release in 1990.
At times the movie was difficult to watch because we were not spared the graphic brutality of the apartheid regime. It made me cry and lived with me for days.
In 1971 my husband, Graeme Whyte, was recruited by Ronnie Kasrils to go in secret to South Africa, from London, and help to keep the ANC and the struggle alive.
He kept this extremely dangerous mission a secret from everyone for over 40 years, and only started to tell people about his remarkably brave story once he was sure that he would be safe to do so.
For example, he never told his best friend or his mother. In fact his mother only found out after the book was published when she was 85 years old. Imagine the reaction he got when they found out that they were in the company of a real life secret agent – James Bond!
One day out of the blue, in 2005, he was contacted by other recruits who told him they were writing their stories for posterity and invited Graeme to join them. This was a very moving time for the recruits, as they too had locked their stories in their hearts. They published London Recruits: The Secret War Against Apartheid. Click on the link to read the review.
It would be wonderful to sell thousands and thousands of copies because all proceeds go to the Nelson Mandela children’s Fund. It is a very interesting book full of short stories from very brave men and women who were against the brutal apartheid regime at that time. I salute every one of them.
UPDATE: Great news! Since the launch of the book it has been decided to make a film about this sensational story.
After 50 years, this story can at last be told on film. With interviews with the brave people who took such risks to support the struggle for liberation this film, London Recruits, will recount their incredible story.
This is a documentary but also a very dramatic and exciting film that we hope to show throughout the world. It’s a political thriller in every sense of the word. It includes stories of both near misses and the arrest of those unfortunate enough to be captured, tortured and imprisoned.
This film is so relevant today because it is an inspirational story of a fight against racism and brutality.
The film is already half finished and you can see a preview if you CLICK HERE.
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