Photo exhibit opens at house where Madiba was imprisoned
The house that was once home to president Nelson Mandela will for the foreseeable future serve as home to 30 of the most iconic images of his lifetime, as part of an exhibition that opened at the Drakenstein Correctional Centre on Monday, 11 February 2019.
The exhibition, titled Nelson Mandela: His Prison Life at Drakenstein Revisited, is hosted in the same house where Madiba was held for the final 14 months of his imprisonment, on the grounds of what was then known as Victor Verster Prison.
Monday’s launch took place on the 29th anniversary of Madiba’s release from prison on February 11, 1990, at the very same place where he took his first steps as a free man after 27 years as a political prisoner of the Apartheid regime.
Chief Mandla Mandela, Madiba’s grandson and head of the Mvezo traditional council, was a guest at the launch; decades after visiting his grandfather at the house in the late 1980s. Chief Mandela explained that the house always held a special place in the president’s heart, despite him being held against his will.
“For me, we will always regard this house as the place where Madiba’s true incarceration took place, (because he was) isolated from his comrades that he confided in. But the engagements that he had with them when they had an opportunity to come and visit, also exposed their own challenges in the years to come,” Chief Mandela said.
“I think we are fond, as a family, to own the replica of this house. Because after Madiba was released, in 1993 he called Murray and Roberts and asked them to find him the plans for this house and he built the identical house in Qunu, where he today is in his final resting place.
“You must understand how dear this property was to my grandfather, so much so that upon his release he had the exact same house built. I took a walk when I arrived here to look just how close the house is in design, and it is identical.”
Prior to Madiba’s imprisonment, the house served as home to the prison’s warden. Since his release, the interior has remained mostly unchanged, apart from the addition of a few portraits of Madiba which now hang on the walls.
The photo exhibition features pictures from photo journalists Benny Gool and Adil Bradlow; and former prison official, Nathan Ramailane. They show Madiba’s final months of imprisonment, the immediate moments after his release and his returns to the property in later years.
“True to his legacy, this exhibition united the three spheres of government, which in this current political climate, seems close to impossible. The launch today shows in real terms what can be achieved if we all work better together for the greater good of all who call our great county home,” Minister Marais added.
“I therefore thank the national Department of Correctional Services, the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA), our DCAS officials, Heritage Western Cape, the local Drakenstein Municipality and every person who had a hand in the success of (the) launch. Together, we have taken another step in our long walk to freedom.”
The Western Cape Government works to honour the legacy of president Nelson Mandela, for the benefit of all South Africans. BETTER TOGETHER.