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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”