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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Hamilton Live: Dustbowl Revivali
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
September 02, 2015 12:19 PM
Dustbowl Revival is an American roots orchestra with eight full-time members who performed live at "The Hamilton" songs from their new CD, "With A Lampshade On."

Dustbowl Revival is an American roots orchestra with eight full-time members who performed live at "The Hamilton" songs from their new CD, "With A Lampshade On."