Mangaung: The ancestors look on

2012-12-19 11:17

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The Mangaung conference is taking place under the watchful gaze of some African elders. Le Roux Schoeman visits a public exhibition that’s given delegates the chance to “meet” some of their heroes.

Langa Dube makes his way through a crowd of delegates milling around a cluster of about

16 statues facing the ANC conference’s main tent.

He strolls past a dapper Sol Plaatje, the first secretary-general of the South African Native National Congress, then passes artist Jean Doyle’s rather bling interpretation of Queen Labotsibeni Mdluli, Queen Regent of Swaziland.

He skirts Zulu leader Cetshwayo, whose knobkierie is being a little suggestively stroked by a female admirer, and dodges the thousand-yard stare on the face of Bantu Women’s League president Charlotte Maxeke.

Finally, he’s reached his destination, and Dube strikes a pose next to the statue of a man whose frame and facial features clearly mirror his own.

This is the first time Dube, who is attending the ANC conference as a guest, has seen this representation of his grandfather in the flesh, so to speak.

He’s posing alongside John Langalibalele Dube, the first president of the South African Native National Congress – which became the ANC in 1923.

Dube says: “It’s an honour and quite encouraging (to see) the ANC taking charge of recognising some of the role players ... and people who made meaningful change.

And they’ve managed to pass on the baton to the new leadership.”

The statues, made by a range of artists and assembled together at the conference, have caused quite a stir among delegates, who make the time each day to examine the art and pose alongside those whose appearances or stories catch their attention.

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