Binge & you'll cringe: 3 of the worst Madiba movies ever made

There have been plenty of films made about the life of Nelson Mandela. Needless to say some are better than others

14 July 2019 - 00:00
Laurence Fishburne, centre, as Nelson Mandela in 'Madiba'.
Laurence Fishburne, centre, as Nelson Mandela in 'Madiba'.
Image: Supplied

Every year on July 18, SA and the world gather to celebrate Mandela Day. We put our differences aside and wear our oldest T-shirts to trek to the nearest school to paint a wall, or hand out a book or take some Instagram photos for 67 minutes. Why 67? Well, because that's what the entire campaign is based on. It even says so in the boilerplate text: "Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We're asking you to start with 67 minutes."

The first global celebration took place in July 2009 on the father of our nation's 91st birthday. The celebration included art exhibits, music events, fundraising and a lot of volunteering, all culminating in a 46664 concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York and, since then, we've been heading out in the heart of winter to virtue signal our way through a single day. To "transform the world" and make an impact, and all it takes it turns out to change the world is little over an hour.

We've come a long way since 2009. In fact, now you can buy Mandela merch for the greater good on literally any day. Mandela fridge magnets, Mandela erasers, Mandela home-made blankets and my most recent spot? Mandela tea. That's right. Don't spill it. Sip it. Literally.

The money spent on the commodification of our first democratically elected black president of course is not in vain, all proceeds go ... somewhere.

So if we're "changing the world" on any given day of the week, I think we should snuggle up our middle-class selves and stop pretending to be good for an hour and seven minutes on just one day and partake in another past-time - the Mandela movie. Because it's also art, or education, or exhibitionism, or ... something.

So herewith, the Rotten Tomatoes'que guide to Mandela-themed consumption. If you're keen to drink the tea, you may as well chew on these.


If you're not really a movie fan and you find the idea of falling asleep to the hum of Joseph Fiennes speaking in Afrikanerisms extremely appealing then this movie is for you.

It's a dull take on "white saviour complex" told through the eyes of lead character James Gregory, a Xhosa-fluent Afrikaans prison warder in charge of Mandela and his comrades on Robben Island.

WATCH | The trailer for 'Goodbye Bafana'

It's not for everyone. Personally, I would rather be trapped in a room of people forcing me to believe that Jesus was white, the greatest of all white saviour stories in fact. But again, if you like watching a stick in the mud, give it a go.


If you search YouTube for: Mandela rugby World Cup 1995, you'll come across a number of videos between three and five minutes long that will help you relive a moving, celebratory moment in our nation's history.

That leaves you with a minimum of 62 minutes to spare, which means you have ample time to go out there and yarn-bomb a tree in the name of freedom and the eradication of poverty should you feel inspired to do so, and trust me, the YouTube videos will definitely inspire something.

The film Invictus, however, about that very day in our sporting history, starring Matt Damon as then Springbok Captain Francois Pienaar and Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela will inspire action of another kind, I'm afraid, and in my case, way back when, it was the need to extract DVD, scratch, and discard so that no human would ever need to suffer viewing one of Clint Eastwood's worst movies ever.

WATCH | The trailer for 'Invictus'

If you're excited by the thought of Freeman portraying Mandela, don't be. He isn't that great an actor and really quite overrated all because his voice has that tonal quality. I vote YouTube and yarn-bombing.


A three part mini-series starring Laurence Fishburne as Nelson Mandela. The show follows Fishburne through his life as he lays down his leather coat, as donned in the Matrix, and swaps it for prison khakis.

Fishburne's accent will give you chills, even if the dramatisation of events leading up to the revolution doesn't.

WATCH | The trailer for 'Madiba'

Just in case that wasn't clear. There are worse ways to spend six hours. And think about it this way, after you've dedicated well over 67 minutes to watching Madiba, you won't have to paint a school for the next five and something years.

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