for tomorrow

NMMU News

08/07/2015

A UNIQUE exhibition featuring photographs of the country’s best-loved former leader, Nelson Mandela, by one of its best-known South African photojournalists, Dr Peter Magubane, is a fitting way to mark the 10th anniversary of the only university that bears Mandela’s name.

The “Madiba – Man of the People” exhibition is commemorating the 10th anniversary of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, which was born out of the 2005 merger  of the University of Port Elizabeth, the Port Elizabeth Technikon and Vista University Port Elizabeth campus, situated in the Missionvale township. 

The NMMU exhibition, which opens to the public from July 21 to September 21, 2015, will be launched on July 20, with a talk by Magubane on the photographs featured and the story they tell about the life and times of Mandela  in the context of the evolving and contentious South African history.  

"This is our country’s history. These are the things that Madiba and so many others were jailed for ... Madiba made great sacrifices for us all. We must never forget that,” said Magubane, 83, who on Saturday (4 July) received the 2015 Nat Nakasa award for his courageous photojournalism during apartheid, jointly awarded by the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF), the Nieman Society and Print Media South Africa

 The award followed the veteran photographer’s honorary doctorate from Wits University last week and last month’s Allan Kirkland Soga Lifetime Achiever Award at the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards.

Magubane – who first photographed Mandela in the 1950s and later visited him on Robben Island and was waiting outside Victor Verster Prison on the day of his release – was the former statesman’s official photographer from 1990 to 1994, when he was elected and served as the first President of democratic South Africa.

In this role, he chronicled the first few years of Mandela’s freedom, and the last part of South Africa’s long journey towards democracy. He travelled the world at Mandela’s side, photographing him with royalty and heads of states, but also saw him relaxing at home with his family, capturing quieter, more intimate moments rarely seen by the world.

Magubane turned these photographs – together with powerful images from pivotal struggle events like Sharpeville and the 1976 Soweto riots – into the book Man of the People: A photographic tribute to Nelson Mandela book.

And it is this book, Magubane’s personal tribute to his friend Mandela, which has provided the inspiration, and the photographs, for NMMU’s exhibition.

Quoted in his book, Magubane says: “[Y]ou will find pictures of Mandela being serious and then he is holding a baby; at other times he is jiving and dancing. This is the man who most white South Africans thought might be different. Instead of confirming their worst fears of pushing them out of the country, he offered hands of peace, saying: ‘Come, let’s work together, let’s build this country together.’”

The exhibition includes photographs from “the early years” (when Mandela was a rising politician), “the struggle years” and “the freedom years”.

“I am thrilled that this exhibition is taking place at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University - the only university in the world that caries the Mandela name -  during an important milestone, the 10th anniversary year of the university.  It is equally delightful that this important new generation university is located in the Eastern Cape which happens to be the backbone of the South African liberation struggle, led by leaders like Mandela, many of whom were born and educated in  the Eastern Cape."

Magubane first worked at Drum in the 1950s – and was the first black photographer to win a prize for press photography in South Africa. He later worked for the Rand Daily Mail and Time magazine South Africa.

He was arrested several times, and endured 586 days in solitary confinement, along with a five-year banning from 1970 to 1975.

Awarding Magubane an Order for Meritorious Service in 1999, Mandela said the stories Magubane told through his photographs “helped pave the way to transformation in South Africa”.

The exhibition runs at NMMU’s Archives and Exhibition Centre, Second Avenue Campus, Summerstrand from 9am to 4pm on weekdays, from July 21 to September 21.

Contact information
Ms Roslyn Baatjies
Media Liaison Practitioner
Tel: 041-5042777
roslyn.baatjies@nmmu.ac.za