News / Arts & Entertainment

South Africa Opens New Mandela Exhibit

From Left: Mandla Mandela, grandson of former president Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel, wife of Mandela, and president Jacob Zuma attend the opening of the revamped Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, Nov. 18, 2013.
From Left: Mandla Mandela, grandson of former president Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel, wife of Mandela, and president Jacob Zuma attend the opening of the revamped Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, Nov. 18, 2013.
Anita Powell
Officials in South Africa have opened the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, just 11 days before the South Africa premiere of a Hollywood film based on the life of the anti-apartheid icon.  Mandela is now 95 and homebound because of health problems, but officials say he has much to teach his nation, and the world.  

The Nelson Mandela Foundation unveiled the new exhibit of Mandela’s life to a veritable who’s who of South Africa.  

Current President Jacob Zuma lauded the man who overturned South Africa’s apartheid government and became the first black president in 1994.  Top politicians and diplomats praised him; singers belted out tunes in his honor; and members of Mandela’s family said they were touched by the attention.

The airy, modern new space presents a variety of artifacts, from the impressive to the banal, the official to the personal.  Photos show Mandela at most stages of his life - from a uniformed schoolboy to a confident young lawyer, from longtime prisoner to president.

Visitors may also learn a few intimate details about the man who has been so extensively written about.  

For example, after his release from prison, where he spent 27 years for his opposition to apartheid, he not only spoke optimistically, he literally doused himself in optimism.  One of the pieces on exhibit is a half-used bottle of CK One cologne - a fitting choice, considering the fresh, citrusy scent was revolutionary, in that it was one of the most successful unisex scents ever.  

Visitors will see a replica of his immaculately neat office, pore over letters he wrote in his tiny, dense handwriting, and gaze upon his Nobel Peace Prize, which he won in 1993 for bringing an end to the racist system of government.

But perhaps what is more interesting is kept underground at the center, thousands upon thousands of documents, written by and about Mandela and this critical period of South African history.  Conservationists and researchers are working constantly to save these documents and include them in the historical record.

During the ceremony, Mandela’s grandson Mandla praised the effort.

“For me particularly as a member of the family, and many members of the family, this is an emotional moment for us, because we are seeing the preservation of my grandfather’s legacy for future generations," he said. "For me, in person, my grandfather has always been the magnet, the unifying factor around us as a family, and it is one thing for me that today, we see people from all walks of life unifying, coming together in his honor, in the realization of his legacy."

President Zuma praised the man who he followed and admired as an aspiring politician.  Several of the photos of Mandela on display show in the background a young, bearded and surprisingly hirsute Zuma, who today is bald.

Zuma said Mandela taught his nation a valuable lesson.  Like many South Africans, Zuma referred to Mandela by his clan name, Madiba.  

“It is in Tata Madiba that the humanist value of Ubuntu, which teach us that ‘I am because you are,’ continue to find expression," he said. "It was Tata Madiba who led us in the important program of reconciliation and reaching out to one another. It is from him and his generation that we were reminded once more that; what unites us far outweighs that which divides us; that humanity is one and that our destiny is linked."

Centre of Memory Director Sello Hatang says he hopes the new center and upcoming film will show Mandela is a complicated man.  He said the movie managed to capture that well.

“Madiba is a difficult character, he is complex.  And they managed to capture his complexity," he said. "And we believe that the movie will at least open other windows into the life and times of Nelson Mandela, which were never opened before.  And this includes his flaws, because one of the things we tend to do is to want to treat Madiba as a deity, that he is perfect, that he has no flaws.  And here is a man who actually demonstrates that he also has flaws, and he helps us realize that we can also be human through, we can do extraordinary things being just us, human beings."

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory is free to the public, but is only open by appointment.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

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.”