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Mandela life story set for TV series

09 January 2012, 18:54

Cape Town - The life of South African struggle icon Nelson Mandela will be portrayed in a six-hour mini-series, reports The Guardian.

The series, to be entitled Madiba, will span six decades - including former president Mandela's leadership of the ANC, his imprisonment on Robben Island and his triumphant election as the first black president of South Africa, following the first democratic elections in 1994.

Mandela, 93, has reportedly given his blessing for the drama, which will be shot primarily on location in South Africa. Mandela's grandson Kweku Mandela, 26, will serve as producer, reports Variety, through his Africa Entertainment company, with the UK's Left Bank Pictures and Canada's Blue Ice Films collaborating on the project.

'Focus on the man'

Two of Mandela's autobiographies Conversations with Myself and Nelson Mandela by Himself will serve as the source material for the television series, to be written by Nigel Williams.

Kweku Mandela said the aim of the project is to craft a portrait of his grandfather as a person, beyond his political and human rights achievements.

"I felt if we were going to do this, it was important to put the focus on the man," Mandela told Variety.

"That's why in the research for this, it's important that we get as close to his thoughts as we can. The people who helped guide him and shape him as a person will be strong characters."

Andy Harries, a UK producer on the series, told The Guardian that he and his producing partner Marigo Kehoe had a brief meeting with Mandela at his home in Johannesburg to discuss the project and get his personal blessing.

Harries said he believed a "quality six-hour TV series with a budget of over $3m an hour will be able to give the story the space and breadth it needs".

Reality series

Nelson Mandela and other family members will provide input and feedback on the scripts. When told about plans for the project, Kweku said his grandfather asked: "How much am I getting paid?"

Casting for the series is yet to be finalised.

Madiba follows the 2009 Clint Eastwood film Invictus, in which Morgan Freeman portrayed Mandela as a newly elected president who led South Africa to unity in support of the Springbok rugby team, who went on to win the 1995 World Cup on home soil.

Three of Mandela's grandchildren - Swati Dlamini, Dorothy Adjoa Amuah and Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway, who grew up in the US - are set to star in an unscripted reality show called Being Mandela about their lives as successful businesswomen. The show is due to be aired sometime in 2012.

A movie focused on the life of Mandela's former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, directed by South African filmmaker Darrell James Roodt and starring US actors Jennifer Hudson as Winnie and Terrence Howard as Nelson Mandela, debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2011 to mixed reviews.

A South African release date has not yet been established.

- Channel24

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