A journey through the life of Nelson Mandela

We were honoured to attend the opening night of the official Nelson Mandela exhibition in London. It was incredible to see the life of the world’s most iconic freedom fighter and political leader and his journey to become the ‘Father of South Africa’.

Chief Nkosi Zwelivelile (Mandla) Mandela, the former president’s oldest grandson and the exhibition’s co-curator said: “I would like to thank Julia Morley and the Miss World family for attending the official launch. I was very humbled to have our close friends and reigning Miss World, Vanessa, with us as they have played a key part of Madiba’s work over many years.”

This immersive and interactive experience features previously unseen film, photos and a display of over 150 historical artefacts and personal effects on loan from the Mandela family, museums and archives worldwide.

Miss World, Vanessa Ponce de León, said: “Nelson Mandela has been one of the biggest inspirations in my life. Apart from the obvious, I would have liked to know how he survived in prison for all those years and not be broken. How did he keep his hope, how did he keep fighting for the same ideals that brought him there but even more how could he come out of jail, after those years, after not seeing his family and be even stronger, then change the destiny of a nation?

“My dream of getting those answers became true last night at the official Nelson Mandela exhibition in London. With each step I took I could understand a little bit more why, why did he keep fighting why did he go through all that struggle with a smile on his face? He did it because it was the right thing, not the easiest, but the right thing to do.

“And he doesn’t sugar coat it, you can see the pain in his letters. The loneliness, the confusion of living in a world that doesn’t show equal respect for human lives, but there’s one thing you don’t see in the exhibit...doubt. He always knew that he had to keep going, that he couldn’t give up. He had such a drive and confidence that he was on the right path...and I admire him even more.”

Speaking at the opening, Mandla said his grandfather who was also known by his clan name of Madiba, was ‘too diverse and dynamic’ to completely capture in one exhibition. He said: “My grandfather was born in Mvezo, a tiny village on the banks of the Mombasa river and grew in Kunu. From humble beginnings where traditional values and culture were installed in him.

“We have tried to cover various chapters of his life, but for us the exhibition is about a call to action. We know that Madiba served humanity and dedicated his life to serving humanity. Through this exhibition we want to make sure that mission does not end, this is a call to action."

The official exhibition takes place at newly opened Leake Street Gallery, underneath the railway arches in Waterlooand right next door to the station and the South Bank. It’s open from 8 February to 2 June 2019, before embarking on a global tour.

It’s well worth a visit!

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