When Nelson Mandela came to Canada in his first visit after his release from jail, he gave an open-air speech in a park in downtown Toronto. One of the thousands of people who went to that speech was my mother. She told me later that it was one of most fulfilling and inspiring moments she in her life.
My mother had been one of the people who, long before it became fashionable in the eighties, had boycotted anything to do with South Africa as requested by people like Mandela. For people like my mother, seeing him there in that park was the culmination of a struggle that had spanned more then 30 years in an attempt to win equality for the people of South Africa.
For most of those years Nelson Mandela was in jail, but from his cell on Robben Island he became the face of the struggle, the icon of the revolution. But who was this man and where did he come from before his name became synonymous with the anti-apartheid movement? To help answer that question Palm Pictures has released Mandela, the fourth installment in their astounding Palm World Voices series.
As with the three prior releases — Africa, Vedic Path, and Babba Maal — Mandela is comprised of a DVD, a CD, a full colour booklet, and an extensive National Geographic map. Not only do these packages give you insight into a particular person or region, but undertake to place them in a social/political, historical, and cultural context. In the case of Mandela, that's inseparable from the subject matter.
The DVD that is included in this package is the 1997 Academy Award nominated documentary Mandela: Son Of Africa, Father Of A Nation. The filmmakers used stock and archival footage to recreate the historical events of fight for freedom in South Africa, and intertwine them with present day interviews with some of the principle figures in Mandela's personal and political life.
They also have the man himself narrate his younger days and he comes across as remarkably unaffected. Whenever I listen to a renowned person speak of themselves, I don't so much listen to the words but how they are said. When Mr. Mandela talks about himself there is none of the false humility that you so often hear from the mouths of "celebrities".