Can’t Stop Watching: My Visit to Mandela’s Jail Cell, Videos About Mandela’s Life & More

by | December 6, 2013 at 7:05 PM | Black Entertainment, Can't Stop Watching, Oprah Winfrey, Oprah's Next Chapter

Nelson Mandela (Photo: Getty)

Over the past 24 hours we’ve learned that former South African President Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95. It’s still very hard for some to accept his passing. Though Mandela, who fought against South Africa’s apartheid regime, was on my list of people I’d like to meet, we never would. I did, however, get a chance to visit his cell at Robben Island Prison–where he spent 27 years–during a trip I took to South Africa a few years back. It was a few days before New Years–summertime in that part of the world–yet it was very cool, the sky was dark and cloudy and the Atlantic Ocean waters were vengeful, “very angry,” as my best friend noted. Our tour guide was wonderfully knowledgeable, we took loads of notes and tons of photos. One of the things that struck me about my Robben Island visit, aside from the African penguins that reside there, is the strict racial caste system that was maintained among prisoners. White prisoners received better treatment than Asian, Indian, Coloured and black African captives, the latter receiving the worst.  While South Africa’s apartheid system was dismantled in 1994 and a freedom fighter like Mandela was elected its first black president, the system’s residuals were still very apparent during my trip.  My friends and I stayed in Camps Bay, an affluent oceanfront suburb of Cape Town. We had a truly amazing time during our visit. But for those of us who are black, for a while, the only other black people we encountered were in subservient roles–maids, wait staff, manicurists, massage therapists, cab drivers– who only worked in the area. The vast majority of the other vacationers were white or non-black. From what we saw and were told, black Africans still weren’t privy to the area’s best neighborhoods. Yes, in an African country, the “homeland” of black people, this existed. My friends and I were shocked and disappointed. I’m in no way saying that black Africans only live in shanty towns. But in some ways, there seemed to be a glass ceiling in place where many black Africans were still unable to truly thrive. This is why I believe that to fully realize Mandela’s dreams of true peace and freedom, In some ways, the culture is more progressive than how many Americans live. Yet, I believe to fully see Mandela’s dreams realized, the remaining vestiges of hatred have to be transformed. Otherwise, his life and legacy would be in vain. Want to learn more about Mandela? Check out some of the video selections below or visit here.

Watch “Madiba: The Life and Times of Nelson Mandela”

 Here’s a sampling of XFINITY TV’s videos related to Nelson Mandela and the endeavor to end apartheid in South Africa…
–Also, be sure to check out this vintage interview where veteran journalist Charlie Rose sits down with Nelson Mandela in 1993, months before he was elected South Africa’s first black president. Watch it here.

–Want to learn more about the efforts to end apartheid? Be sure to check out “Cry Freedom,” starring Denzel Washington as anti-apartheid activist, Stephen Biko, and Kevin Kline as his white journalist friend Donald Woods. Watch it here.

–Here’s a snippet of an interview NBC’s Brian Williams did with Mandela in 1994, after he unseated F. W. de Klerk as South Africa’s president. Watch it here.

On my watchlist? What I’m tuning in to see and what I’ll catch up with XFINITY On Demand this weekend…
“The Oprah Interview: Nelson Mandela”: This ought to be good. It airs Sunday at 8 p.m. EST on OWN.
“Oprah’s Next Chapter”: Oprah will sit down with with Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael B. Jordan, dishing on their powerhouse performances they displayed in top movies this year. It airs Sunday at 9 p.m. EST on OWN. [Watch here]
“Getting On”: I explained earlier this week why I dig this new HBO series starring Niecy Nash. It airs Sunday at 10 p.m. EST on HBO. [Watch here]

The Hot List: Who/What’s Hot, Not
HOT: The outpouring of love that people around the world are displaying about the late Nelson Mandela. (When you’re loved, you’re loved!).
NOT: FXX has cancelled “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.” (Still disappointed by this news.)

HOT: Yara Shahidi, 13, who plays young Olivia Pope on ABC’s “Scandal.” (This lovely is the adorable younger cousin of rapper Nas.).
NOT: ABC slimming down “Scandal” from 22 to 18 episodes reportedly because Kerry Washington can no longer hide her pregnancy. (People get it but it doesn’t mean they gotta love it.)

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.