Art – An open dialogue

2010-07-17 10:24

Despite the chill wind that whipped around the Number 4 Exhibition

space at Constitution Hill, I was warm.

Warm and fuzzy inside reading the notes

and quotes, and studying the photographs collated for In ­Conversation: Albert

John Mvumbi Luthuli and Nelson ­Rolihlahla Mandela.

The exhibition, organised by the arts and culture department, will

feature at various venues across the country until the end of ­August.

At Constitution Hill, two ­semicircles of chairs and tables greet

the observer, reminiscent of a lekgotla.

Laminated onto the tables are quotes, archive photographs and

descriptions of each man’s ­philosophy and life journey.

To each side of the space, are rooms housing more tables ­depicting

aspects of the ­struggle, including leading it and giving a voice to it.

There are also posters ­depicting their comrades – ­Oliver Tambo,

Walter Sisulu, Winnie Mandela – as well as ­excerpts from their respective Nobel

Peace Prize acceptance speeches.

In one room, the sounds of Luthuli, Mandela and Hendrik Verwoerd’s

voices draw the ­listener in, sendìng shivers down your spine.

Luthuli was the first African to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960

and it was he who was in charge of the African National Congress in 1955 when

the ­Freedom Charter was signed.

Mandela, along with FW de Klerk, won the prize in 1993 and was

responsible for seeing our progressive Constitution through in 1996.

He was also

the founder of the ANC Youth League, which is depressing when you look at what

that ­organisation has become.

In Conversation is a celebration of our history’s greatest leaders

– but, unintentionally perhaps, the big ideas and even bigger action they

inspired throw our current leadership’s pettiness and lack of political will

into sharp relief.

This is a small exhibition but one that shows us again how far

we’ve come thanks to great people.

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