Morgan Freeman Mistaken for Mandela; Embarrassing Billboard Image Goes Viral

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | December 20, 2013 4:28 PM EST

India's adulation for Nelson Mandela is known to the world. Mandela is the only non-Indian to receive the highest civilian award in India, the 'Bharatratna', in 1990 even before he got the Nobel. India also declared five-day mourning after he passed away on December 5. Nonetheless, the latest revelation on social media may well embarrass the nation which has always shown great respect to the South African legend.

An Indian billboard has been put up to respect the great South African anti-apartheid leader. This may not be unusual as the entire world has been showing respect to him for the last couple of weeks in particular since he passed away. However, the embarrassing part for India here is that the billboard used Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman's face in the billboard. The discovery of the roadside billboard was posted on the social networking Web sites like Twitter on Thursday, which has been equally amused and embarrassed by the revelation.

South Africa's leading online news agency IOL News called Indians 'red-faced' over the use of the image of 'the other Mandela' on the billboard erected in Coimbatore, a major city in the southern part of India. The billboard also has much smaller images of Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr.

It is written on the billboard (in Tamil language): "We should be proud that we were part of an era when they lived,"

A cloth merchant who made the payment for the erection of the billboard, known only as Mr Chandrashekhar, explained that it had been a mistake on the designer's part. When AFP contacted him over the phone, he claimed that Freeman's images would be replaced by Mandela's. He also said that he was not aware how the blunder was made.

It may be considered as sheer ignorance of human history as many prominent personalities too apparently made a mistake to 'identify' Mandela after his death.

Paris Hilton allegedly mistook Martin Luther King for Mandela Jr. on Twitter. However, she dismissed that she could ever make that mistake and claimed that it was a fake tweet.

The reason why some people may have mistaken Freeman for Mandela could be the fact that he enacted Mandela's character in the movie "Invictus" (2009).

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