nullBET Networks will celebrate the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela on this Thursday, July 18, with the premiere of the BET News Special, Mandela – Freedom’s Father, at 8 PM ET/PT and the BET Premiere Cinema debut of Invictus at 9 PM ET/PT.

Details via press release from BET:

“BET NEWS SPECIAL: MANDELA – FREEDOM’S FATHER” – Premieres Thursday, July 18th at 8 PM* ET/PT.

This one-hour BET News special, “Mandela: Freedom’s Father”, takes viewers on a journey through the life and times of Nelson Mandela with exclusive video and heartfelt interviews with celebrities and Mandela insiders. Actors Alfre Woodard and Blair Underwood, along with Mandela biographer, Richard Stengel offer personal accounts of the fight for Mandela’s freedom, the struggle to build a new South Africa and the special memories of their time with this great Father of a Nation.  To view an exclusive clip of the special go to and to embed the clip for posting use code listed at the end of the programming note.

BET PREMIERE CINEMA: INVICTUS – Premieres Thursday, July 18th at 9 PM* ET/PT.

Starring  Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, the film tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa’s rugby team as they make their historic run to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Championship match.

Invictus wouldn’t be my choice of films to watch to celebrate Nelson Mandela. In fact, I’d instead suggest one of a handful of documentaries, over Invictus, or any of the other fictional feature films on the man’s life. But I suppose a film like Invictus is maybe the most accessible.

Mandela, who turns 95 on July 18, was hospitalized in early June with a lingering lung ailment he first developed during the 27 years he spent in prison. The most recent official statement on his status is that his condition as critical but stable, and that he’s responding to treatment.

BET encourages audiences to keep up to date on Nelson Mandela’s progress via their website Viewers can also join the celebration and conversation on Twitter by using hashtag #BETcelebratesMandela and following @BET & @BETNews.

Watch a preview of the news special, Mandela – Freedom’s Father, below: