News / Arts & Entertainment

Paris Exhibit Captures Mandela's Journey

Paris Exhibit Captures Mandela's Journeyi
X
June 19, 2013 2:54 PM
The fragile health of former South African president Nelson Mandela has been a subject of great concern in recent days. But a new exhibition in Paris takes a step back - looking at Mandela's evolution from political prisoner to one of the world's most beloved and venerated politicians. Produced by the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, the show kicks off a year of cultural events in France featuring South Africa. Incidentally, the French capital recently made Mandela an honorary citizen. Lisa Bryant reports for VOA.
Lisa Bryant
The fragile health of former South African president Nelson Mandela has been making headlines in recent days. But a new exhibition in Paris takes a step back -  looking at Mandela's evolution from political prisoner to one of the world's most beloved and respected politicians. Produced by the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, the show kicks off a year of cultural events in France featuring South Africa. Incidentally, the French capital recently made Mandela an honorary citizen.

In front of Paris city hall sits a bleak reminder of South Africa's apartheid regime. It's a reproduction of the Robben Island prison cell where Mandela spent 18 years in captivity.

It's part of an exhibition here tracing Mandela's personal and political journey from activist, to prisoner, to his country's first black president. Laurent Clavel, of the Institut Francais, is the General Commissioner of this year’s season of cultural events. He spoke about Mandela’s legacy.

"This exhibition is showing how much Mandela has become a world icon and how much his message and his struggle is universal. This exhibition is a tribute to the legacy that Nelson Mandela is leaving to the world."

It's a legacy marked by amazing achievements, but also by loneliness and loss, starting with Mandela's childhood in the eastern Cape region. His father died when he was nine.

When Mandela was 23, he escaped from an arranged marriage and went to Johannesburg. He earned a law degree and joined the African National Congress, becoming a leader in the campaign against apartheid. In the early 1960s, Mandela was sentenced to life in prison. Clavel compared how Mandela’s personal story was linked to that of South Africa.

"During his days, his years in jail, he went through a personal journey. He became someone who has promoted reconciliation, peace and liberty for everybody. And this exhibition [reflects] that, because you go through all these different steps understanding the journeys that Nelson Mandela has been through and understanding how Nelson Mandela's story is profoundly linked to South Africa's story."

For Mauritanian Faty Sow, who wandered through the exhibition with her husband, Mandela keeps African dreams alive.

Sow said what Mandela stands for is immense. It's not only his personality, but also his image as a father, as standing for liberty. It's about everything for her. 

The exhibition looks at Mandela's transformation into a hero and icon. But it also explores his weaknesses - like his tendency to be autocratic and his slowness with which he reacted to South Africa AIDS threat. Clavel said that it also traces France's own evolution in its relations with South Africa.

"France at one stage was doing business with the apartheid government, regarding arms, for instance. And when France was not totally against the apartheid, And also when France became a leader in the struggle against apartheid. France has been very instrumental in implementing the boycott, the economic boycott, cultural boycott against apartheid, and we know the effect of that."

For French exhibit visitor Xenian Uruty, Mandela's struggle for equality also resonates in France.

Uruty said racism is more subtle and less violent in France than it was in South Africa and, perhaps, the United States. But the path to equality is a long one here, as well.

Mandela’s health may be fading, but to many in Paris, as in South Africa, his legacy seems to be very much alive.

You May Like

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”