South Africa holds ‘Mandela is Dead’ exhibition
A decade on from the death of Nelson Mandela, an anniversary exhibition entitled "Mandela is Dead" was opened on Friday in Johannesburg by the Mandela Foundation.
the world, Nelson Mandela remains an icon, famed for his destruction of South
Africa's apartheid system in the 1990s.
some South Africans are questioning his legacy and whether it is time to move
on from nostalgia.
To respond to this question and the differing views on the
leader's legacy, the Mandela Foundation's exhibition invites South
Africans to express their thoughts through interactive displays.
Any country with such a strong figure suffers for many years
after the personality is gone from the "deep nostalgia and this hanging on
to that symbol," said Verne Harris, the late president's archivist and
acting president of the Mandela Foundation.
"What we are saying in this exhibition, is that maybe that
becomes a destructive energy. Maybe we need to let him go. And look for new
The exhibition highlights "the weight of the loss we
suffered" with Mandela's death.
"We encourage discourse," said Foundation spokesman
Morongwa Phukubye. "We debate his legacy. His legacy isn't one of a
Message boards were put up at two universities for comments.
Some of the responses are startling and highlight divisions over Mandela's
Left-wing parties and many youths say the late leader should
have done more to dismantle the effects of apartheid's nearly five decades of institutionalized
discrimination by the white minority that tore apart society.
"His legacy has done nothing but keep the poor poor and the
rich rich, freedom is not free," said one, written at a university in
Braamfontein in Johannesburg.
"If everybody doesn't strive to bring the dream of a truly
free and progressive South Africa to life, then that dream dies with
Mandela," added another.
"So many of his dreams remain unfulfilled by his
comrades," said a third.
Harris said foundation representatives who go to South African
townships and schools pick up varied reactions.
"We encounter narratives like 'Mandela was a sellout and
that's why we're in so much trouble today'," said Harris. Or, it can
be ‘Madiba was a great leader and it's a pity that his successors have been so
As the country approaches its 30-year anniversary of the end of
apartheid, Harris says most important lesson he learned from Mandela is
that "hope is not enough."
"We need a deep belief that even if the future is worse
than the present we still have to keep fighting, keep doing what needs to be
done. So you endure. That keeps me going a lot."