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Iziko Museums of South Africa commemorated International Mandela Day with the launch of “Tata Madiba: Father of our democracy, Father of our Nation.”
The exhibition at the Iziko South African Museum from July 19 brings together objects, specimens and artworks to stimulate conversation about Madiba’s life, struggles and legacy. A focal point of this exhibition is an iMadiba installation – an artistic recreation of Madiba’s Robben Island cell, conceptualized and created by Stellenbosch-based photographer and artist, Erhardt Thiel.
During her opening address, Iziko CEO Ms Rooksana Omar quoted uTata: “When our museums and monuments preserve the whole of our diverse heritage, when they are inviting to the public and interact with the changes all around them, then they will strengthen our attachment to human rights, mutual respect and democracy, and help prevent these ever again being violated,” Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, in an address on Robben Island, on Heritage Day 1997.
Nelson Mandela was not only central to South Africa’s epic struggle against apartheid – his role in helping build a new nation from the fragments of our conflicted histories, fearless pursuit of the dream of democracy and a non-racial society in order to create a better life for all, is a legacy that we must value. Ms Omar further stated: “It is apt for Iziko Museums of South Africa to honour his legacy. Recognised across the globe as both a symbol of sacrifice and beacon of hope, Madiba’s life lessons are part of our cultural heritage – constituting a national treasure which we must conserve and share for future generations.”
The iMadiba art installation provides a space for dialogue, memory and reflection. Based on the actual dimensions of the Robben Island cell where the late president spent most of his 27 years of incarceration, it stands as a literal reminder of our past, and the future we strive to build together. Individuals are invited to engage with the artwork by using the space as a conversation station. The size of the installation also means that those engaging in the space do so in close proximity, with no barriers, to each other. This call to action is directly aligned to Iziko’s vision to ignite conversations, connections and museum collections.
This multi-disciplinary exhibition pays tribute to Nelson Mandela, who was an instrumental catalyst of change, a warrior against apartheid and advocate of social cohesion. Madiba’s extraordinary contribution in terms of the protection of South Africa’s rich biodiversity; including the many species named after him and those he and his fellow prisoners may have encountered on Robben Island, are also featured.
Tata Madiba: Father of our democracy, Father of our nation, serves as a vehicle to engender a positive legacy through dialogue, memory, reflection and forward thinking. Strengthening our democracy requires consistent, continued and collective commitment from citizens. In naming the conversation station the words “I” and “Madiba” opens our minds to finding ways in which we can emulate his values. The call to “Be the Legacy” is an opportunity to each of us to make small individual changes that can collectively have significant impact in accelerating the change required to fight inequalities, poverty and improves the lives of the people.
Tata Madiba: Father of our democracy, Father of our Nation is on show at the Iziko South African Museum. Open daily from 9am – 5pm.