“There's no better place to visit for in-depth research on the man and his journey,” said actor Sello Motloung following a visit to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Motloung was speaking after he used the facilities at the Foundation to prepare for his role as Nelson Mandela in an upcoming feature film, An Act of Defiance.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation assisted him by providing access to audio recordings of the famous "Speech from the Dock", delivered during the Rivonia Trial on 20 April 1964. Mandela’s 176-minute speech opened the defence case in the trial.
The South Africa-Netherlands co-production focuses on Bram Fischer, the lead defence advocate for Mandela and his co-accused during the trial. It ended after about nine months, on 13 June 1964, with eight of them being sentenced to life imprisonment.
“We are delighted that Mr Motloung chose to engage with rich archival content,” said Verne Harris, Director of Dialogue and Archive at the Foundation. “It’s a choice that indicates deep respect for his subject.”
The film, directed by Jean van de Velde, is scheduled for release in March 2017. Bram Fischer is played by Peter Paul Muller.
“I wanted a source where I would immerse myself completely in the man's journey. And what better place than the Foundation and its fulfilling resources?” said Motloung.
He said that his visit to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which also took in a tour of the archive and the permanent exhibition, introduced him to information he did not know existed. It felt like he had visited Mandela himself, he said.
“I had to suit the images and my dialogue with the life and energy that oozed through the recordings. Clearly, the man was way bigger than what one encounters in the media,” he said.
Motloung believes that everyone should visit the Nelson Mandela Foundation, “whether for research or introspection. It surely talks to you, whether you agree with the politics of Mandela or not. It forms part of who we are as a country and as a people.”
After the Rivonia Trial, Fischer himself was arrested and tried for conspiracy to overthrow the apartheid regime. He, too, was sentenced to life in prison, which he began serving in Pretoria Central Prison with other white male political prisoners. One of those incarcerated with him was Denis Goldberg, the only white person convicted in the Rivonia Trial. Because of apartheid, he was not allowed to be held on Robben Island with Mandela and his other comrades.
Fischer was diagnosed with cancer in prison and released in 1975 to house arrest in the home of his brother in the Free State. He died a few weeks later.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation is open from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. To book a tour, contact Ann-Young Maharaj on (011) 547 5600 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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