On the 5th of December, 2013, Nelson Mandela passed away. Over the past 10 years, we have felt the weight of the loss we suffered and the symbolic and practical meanings of his missing. In creating a space to acknowledge and process this grief, the Nelson Mandela Foundation is hosting an exhibition in collaboration with The Forge, The South African Human Rights Commission and Stellenbosch University.
The exhibition uses the visage of Nelson Mandela etched onto transparent perspex panels, reflecting the reality that he is not there. ‘Nelson Mandela’ for better or worse has come not only to refer to South Africa’s first Black and democratically elected president but also to the very promise we made to each other in the constitution Nelson Mandela signed in 1996. ‘Nelson Mandela’ has come to represent our hopes for freedom, for a flourishing and prosperous society free from hatred, inequity and oppression. Whenever we have thought of Nelson Mandela, we have necessarily looked past him and focused on this country, this place and the people of South Africa.
A significant aspect of this exhibition includes clear perspex panels placed at The Forge in Braamfonteing, at the Westville campus at the University of KwaZulu-Natal as well as at Stellenbosch University. These panels invite the community to respond to the prompt “What does it mean that Nelson Mandela is dead?” with permanent markers. We hope the panels will be a space for robust, challenging and honest dialogue on the missing of Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela Is Dead. But we are still here. The sun is gone, we must each others’ light and warmth now. Nelson Mandela Is Dead, but his legacy lives on through us.
Follow the Nelson Mandela Foundation on X and Instagram to engage in this conversation and updates on when the exhibition will be visiting your neighbourhood. Visit our website and subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates on the exhibition.