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Nelson Mandela has been cemented in the annals of history by way of his rise to power from an anti-apartheid activist to becoming South Africa’s first Black president. The universally known tale of the late global icon will get a fresh look with BET’s airing of a three-part mini-series titled after Mandela’s tribal name, Madiba.

Starring Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated actor Laurence Fishburne in the lead role, the film examines some of Mandela’s early strategies to combat the racist elements of apartheid in the African nation.

Directed by Kevin Hooks, the first African-American director to tackle Mandela’s story in film form, Madiba also stars actors Orlando Jones and David Harewood as Mandela’s close allies Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu respectively. Terry Pheto stars as Mandela’s second wife, Winnie.

Mandela and his compatriots’ tireless work to buck a system designed to limit their ascension has served as an inspiration for proponents of human and civil rights around the globe. The filmmakers used two of Mandela’s popular biographies, Conversations With Myself and Nelson Mandela By Himself as source material.

The name Madiba was a respectful term used to refer to Mandela. It is the name of the clan he hailed from and according to his foundation, it was the name of an 18th Century leader. In South Africa, using these tribal and family names signified that it was more important than a surname.

The six-part mini-series makes its debut on BET this coming Wednesday, February 1, at 9 p.m.  ET/PT. Each subsequent Wednesday, the following parts will air at the same time.


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Little Known Black History Fact: ‘Madiba’ Mini-Series  was originally published on