Idris Elba in South Africa for “Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom” premiere

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Nelson Mandela’s second wife Winnie Madikizela?Mandela (R) and British actor Idris Elba, who plays the role of Nelson Mandela in the movie “Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom”, attend the movie’s premiere in Johannesburg on November 3, 2013

A long-awaited film on the life of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela premiered in his native South Africa on Sunday, reviving memories of the country’s turbulent history.

The movie “Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom”, largely based on his autobiography of the same title, traces the life of the anti-apartheid icon from his childhood in the rural Eastern Cape to his election as the country’s first black president in 1994.

The 95-year-old Mandela was too frail to attend the premiere as he is under medical care at home, having spent three months in hospital in a critical condition with a lung infection earlier this year.

His ex-wife Winnie Madikizela Mandela said she had “no words” to describe the film’s “translation of that painful past”.

“We should remember where we come from and that this freedom was hard earned and that it was won at a very, very heavy price,” Madikizela Mandela said.

After spending 27 years in jail for activism against the racist regime, Mandela preached equality and forgiveness in the bitterly divided nation, winning him worldwide admiration as a peace icon.

The movie will hit South African cinemas on November 28 and will be released in the United States in December.

Mandela is played by British actor Idris Elba, 41, and Winnie by Naomie Harris, also of Britain.

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