Hamba kahle, Madiba

Our Madiba is dead. It reverberated throughout the traffic this morning and throbbed in our hearts when Gareth Cliff played Johnny Clegg’s Asimbonanga this morning on 5fm, a song calling for Nelson Mandela’s release and performed by Johnny and his band Savuka at anti-apartheid rallies in the 1980s.

Tributes poured in, among them from ex US president Bill Clinton, who said: “I will never forget my friend Madiba,” and a touching Jan F Celliers poem quoted by Max du Preez, who founded the 1980s anti-apartheid newspaper Vrye Weekblad: “Quiet, brothers, a man is passing. He greets, and it’s goodbye. There’s but one like him; look at him well.” (own translation) Gareth also voiced his hope that today will be another opportunity for South Africans to come together as a nation, to remember all the good Madiba has done for his people and continue his legacy.

And that’s what we at VISI decided to do, to celebrate as we say farewell to our first democratically elected president, the lion who defeated apartheid and led his people to freedom. So we pay special tribute with these images of Nelson Mandela by photographer Jürgen Schadeberg who lived and worked most of his life in South Africa. He is also known for his black-and-white Drum magazine cover prints where he was chief photographer, picture editor and art director back in the 1950s.

Housed exclusively at Watershed Gallery in the Great Karoo town of Prince Albert, this collection feature some once-off images of significant stages in Madiba’s life – like him in the law office he shared with Oliver Tambo, and the 1994 photograph of Mandela looking through the prison bars of his cell on Robben Island, voted “one of the most memorable images of the 20th Century” by The Photographers Gallery in London.

Termed by some as the father of South African photography, Jürgen is especially known for his beautiful portraits, which include those he took of Mandela. Photographs are ordered directly from Jürgen in Germany where they are printed and signed before being sent back to South Africa.

Said our friend, novelist Lauren Beukes: “RIP Nelson Mandela. Your fight, your ability to forgive, your faith in all of us to live up to our humanity lives on. You weren’t a symbol, you were a man, and that’s a lot harder. May we be haunted, in the best possible way, by your spirit of reconciliation. May we live up to what you wanted for us.”

082 938 2531, www.watershedprincealbert.co.za