Tuesday 16 January 2018

Daughter told of death at premiere

Zindzi Mandela on the red carpet in London
Zindzi Mandela on the red carpet in London

Nelson Mandela's daughter learnt of her father's death while watching the royal premiere of a film chronicling his incredible life.

Zindzi Mandela took her seat alongside royalty, celebrities and fans of the pioneering former South African president to watch the film in London's Leicester Square.

But in a macabre twist of fate, it was during the screening that she was informed her 95-year-old father had died peacefully at home.

Screams rang out in the auditorium as the news was broken to her, although fellow audience members were not informed of the death until after the film.

Speaking before the screening of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Ms Mandela said her father was doing well, when asked about his health.

She said: "My father is fine. He's 95 years old and he is pretty frail. We are hoping to see more of him."

Jazelle Anderson, 22, who was in the cinema said that, when the film finished and the news was broken to them, "Everyone was completely shocked - completely shocked.

"There was a lot of crying."

After the film, Idris Elba, who plays Mandela, took to the stage with producer Harvey Weinstein to hold a moment's silence to honour the great man.

The star later released a statement, which said: "What an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

The Duke of Cambridge, with Kate beside him, also gave a sombre tribute after leaving the cinema.

"It was extremely sad and tragic news," he said.

"We were just reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family right now."

Mr Weinstein said: "One of the privileges of making movies is having the opportunity to immortalise those who have made a profound impact on humanity.

"We count ourselves unspeakably fortunate to have been immersed in Nelson Mandela's story and legacy.

"It's been an honour to have been granted such proximity to a man who will go down as one of history's greatest freedom fighters and advocates for justice.

"I have had the privilege of spending time with President Mandela and I can say his sense of humour was as great as his optimism.

"We are deeply saddened by his loss; our hearts go out to his family and the entire South African nation."

South African Aure Tte, 30, said he was overwhelmed as he sat in his seat at the premiere while the announcement was made. "I cried for about 10 minutes," he said.

"I got a text message about ten minutes before the announcement, so I was a bit shocked, but I knew it was coming.

"There will be a definite feeling of loss in South Africa."

Sue Whiston, 52, who watched the film, said "The film was amazing, but it was just a complete change of atmosphere when suddenly it was announced that he'd died. People just started crying."

Damian McCarthy, 45, said: "I've never felt an atmosphere like that. It was unbelievable. It went from being quite a high-spirited occasion to absolute silence - stunned silence.

"It's one of those moments where people say, 'Do you remember where you were?' It's definitely put a bit of a bizarre twist on the premiere."

Doctor Amma Kyei-Mensah, 52: "It's devastating. But he's an old man - we knew all year. It was so poignant at the end of that film; it's such a fitting tribute.

"We'd watched that film, we were all ready with a standing ovation, and then we had to hush and they made the announcement. You could have heard a pin drop.

"The film is a very fitting tribute to him. He's a giant of the last century."

Press Association

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