TRIBUTE TO NELSON MANDELA Celebrate Mandela's life at a special screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary Mandela: Son Of Africa, Father Of A Nation, hosted by CBC's Suhana Meharchand, to benefit the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (Canada). All guests receive a commemorative DVD box set that includes the film, soundtrack, a booklet about Mandela and a map of South Africa. Wednesday (October 17), 8 pm. $50. Ryerson University Theatre, 43 Gerrard East. www.ticketweb.ca. Rating: NNNNN
What is the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund?
We raise money to help children in South Africa, children dealing with AIDS and who have disabilities, and we also contribute to sports and recreation programs. The fund was originally started by Nelson Mandela in 1995 when he became president of South Africa; he gave one-third of his pay to establish and maintain it. We started ours here in Canada when he came to the Skydome in 98.
Tell us about the documentary.
It's a great profile of the man. It lets you get to know him in a way you otherwise wouldn't be able to. My son says it's not as good as Blood Diamonds, but it is quite riveting.
Why has Nelson Mandela continued to be such an important figure?
We need our heroes. When they come from sports or entertainment, they tire quickly. But Mandela has only grown in stature, even as he's about to turn 90. He's almost magical. He spent 27 years in prison yet came out without wanting revenge, without hatred. When he was inaugurated, the people in the front row weren't his family and friends, they were his jailers.
What surprises you about Mandela?
I've shaken his hand three times, and I am always surprised by his sense of humour and his nobility of character. He is getting quite old and frail, but he has not slowed a bit; his voice is still strong. He always says, "What is all the fuss about? I'm just a little country boy." And he has great affection for Toronto. He's been here three times, has had a school named after him, has received an honourary doctorate from Ryerson University and always enjoys his time here.