Johannesburg: Revered peace icon Nelson Mandela`s death on Thursday came barely a week after the release of a movie based on his autobiography that Indian-origin South African filmmaker Anant Singh spent almost 20 years to make.
The movie `Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom` on the 95-year-old leader has been setting box office records in its first week in South Africa, earning USD 427,000 in its opening week.
The film has been highly acclaimed at special screenings across the globe, including a special screening arranged at the White House by President Barack Obama.
Ironically in a freakish twist, Mandela died at almost the precise moment VIPs, including his daughter Zindzi Mandela and Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge, were walking the red carpet in London to attend the premiere of the film.
"We have lost our father, an exceptional human being, a hero to the world," said Singh, who had become a close friend of the Mandelas.
"There has never been anyone quite like him and there will never be. We should be inspired by his life and celebrate him with our love," Singh said as he extended his condolences to the family.
William, with Kate by his side, mourned the death of Mandela as he emerged from the theatre.
"It is extremely sad and tragic news. We are reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was," he said to waiting media.
The movie traces Mandela`s life from his childhood in a remote rural part of South Africa, through his years struggling against apartheid, to his 27 years imprisonment and his election as the country`s first black president in 1994.