Marking Mandela’s 21st year of freedom

23 June 2011

An artwork inspired by tributes to Nelson Mandela from ordinary South Africans and their more famous counterparts was unveiled to mark the great man’s 21st year of freedom from incarceration.

The art was unveiled at a glittering ceremony on 21 June at the Killarney Country Club, where Mandela voted in the first democratic elections.

The painting, a project launched by FNB at Liliesleaf Farm on 25 May, is called Ndiwelimilambo Enamagama, a phrase derived from Mandela’s home town in the Eastern Cape, meaning “a great man who has crossed many rivers”.

It was made by artist Andy Robertson, from Glyphic Evolution.

As part of the project, 21 well-known South African were invited to honour Madiba by delivering heartfelt tributes to the man who made, and still makes, a difference to the lives of millions of people around the world.

Tributes poured in from ordinary individuals, who sent messages of how Madiba had inspired by them. They formed the inspiration for the artwork.

Ndiwelimilambo Enamagama is a monumental landscape with a personal portrait of Mandela. His shirt and much of the landscape incorporate many of the tributes.

Legacy

“Our approach has been to look specifically at the idea of a living icon and the legacy that exists beyond that,” said Craig Hazel, the business director of Glyphic Evolution. “We’ve had the privilege of working with a host of tributes, all of which are a testament to the profound effect Nelson Mandela’s legacy has on people everywhere.”

The painting was created using the boxing practice of sparring, all because of a chance encounter that the artist, Robertson, had with Mandela, he explained.

Guests at the ceremony walked along a 210-metre red carpet, which denoted Mandela’s long walk to freedom, lined with pictures of his memorable journey over the past 21 years.

Another highlight of the evening was a heartfelt speech by his grandson, Ndaba Mandela, who accepted the painting on his grandfather’s behalf. “It is with great pride that I congratulate the people of South Africa on 17 years of freedom – one Africa, one people, one destiny,” he said.

The painting will become part of Mandela’s collection.

Personalities like PJ Powers, Graeme Pollock, John Kani, Amy Kleinhans-Curd, Jonathon Zapiro, Philip Tobias, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Roger de Sa and Gary Bailey spoke briefly about Tata, as they fondly called Madiba, and shared the ways in which he had touched their hearts and humbled them.

Pre-recorded video messages also came in from those unable to make an appearance at the event, such as Desmond Tutu, Albie Sachs, Raymond Ackerman, Lucas Radebe, Chester Williams and Charlize Theron.

Lezanne Human, the chief executive of FNB’s premier banking unit, noted that FNB was acting as a vehicle so that the normal public could pay tribute to Madiba. The bank would in turn relay the messages and tributes to Madiba by compiling them into a coffee table book that would also be presented to him.

“Twenty-one years of freedom is a unique time in our history and we are commemorating this through a special tribute book that will incorporate all the tributes we have received from South Africans nationwide. We will present the book to the Nelson Mandela Foundation so that this milestone year goes down in history and is remembered for years to come,” she explained.

Madiba

Human said each icon was selected to speak about their appreciation for Madiba, especially since they all had a special relationship with him and sentimental stories to share about their relationships and how he had changed their lives.

“Through this campaign we seek to rekindle the national pride felt by all South Africans on the eve of the World Cup. We also seek to create a new sense of leadership and inspiration for South Africans as we try and revive a bit of that Mandela Magic,” added Human.

Messages on the night included songs that summed up what Madiba meant to various artists. PJ Powers gave a stunning performance of World in Union, and Yvonne Chaka Chaka sang Man of the World.

The MC, Doreen Morris, said she once asked Mandela why we couldn’t all be coffee colour; to that, she said, he had responded that we wanted to be a fruit salad and in that complement each other.

Tobias drew attention to the un-recognised things that Mandela had done for the country. The restriction against teaching evolution was lifted after he took office, and it was Mandela who applied for South Africa to be re-instated as a member of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

Radebe said: “He has given the world more gifts than we could ever give him. He’s made a difference not only in South Africa but in the world.”

William added: “He is the world to me. Mandela came out of prison and ensured that all South Africans could live in peace and harmony.”

Anecdotes

De Sa retold an anecdote involving his son. In all his history and with all his trophies and accolades, the only time his 10-year-old son showed how proud he was of his dad, he said, was after being told his father was an icon honouring Madiba.

His son shook his hand and said: “Well done, Dad.”

Kani had guests in stitches with his hilarious tales of how Mandela showed him that hating the apartheid government was not the way to live. When Mandela was released, he stood in line as a cultural activist and was shocked when Madiba greeted him by name. “I remember thinking this elderly man has an incredible memory,” he said.

Zapiro used a host of his cartoons to pay tribute to Mandela, noting in one of them that what Madiba inspired in us was priceless.

Tutu ended the tributes by wishing Madiba well, saying “we are all so very proud of all that he’s done for our nation . He is a true leader in every sense of the word.

“Thank you from not only me, but from a nation you love, and we certainly love you.”

Source: City of Johannesburg