AMBASSADOR’S COMMENTS –
OPENING OF HOUSE OF MANDELA, EXHIBITION, 9 APRIL 2019
The Mayor of Estremoz - Francisco Ramos
The Presidente da Junta de Freguesia de Évora Monte - António Ganhão Serrano
Ladies & Gentlemen
I'm indeed pleased to be ‘joining hands’ with you today in honour of the art of Mandela here at the Castle of Évora Monte. I really feel like being on Top of Portugal here in the High Alentejo. We surely cannot ask for a more beautiful space for this event. Thank you also for hosting us for a most enjoyable and relaxing evening and morning at The Place at Evoramonte.
This historic Portuguese castle and monument as I understand was the site where you ended the Liberal Wars in 1834. The inside of this fortification, may have seemed similar for Nelson Mandela in his cell on Robben Island, the only difference being not trying to keeping the enemy out - but being locked up by them in the case of Mandela and cut off from the world for 27 years.
Last year we celebrated the Centenary of Mandela, during which South Africa and the rest of the world has been honouring his life under the theme: “Be the Legacy: Celebrating the Birth of a World Icon and a Life of Service”. Throughout the tribute-year, we worked at how to further the Mandela legacy of peace and justice, public service, self-sacrifice, reconciliation, personal development, and of changing people’s lives for the better! This came through various commemorations and events across Portugal – from a Concert in Matosinhos to an Academic Conference at Nova University, from naming a Mandela Square in Lisbon to unveiling a new Mandela statute in Madeira, and including your Parliament’s statement on International Mandela Day as well as various outreach programmes by ordinary people even in the smallest village. What a celebration and commemoration it was!
Thus we were so happy in January 2019 to hear about the House of Mandela Art Exhibition in Evora Monte, meaning our celebrations and honour of Madiba will continue!
Indeed, I am happy to join you in seeing a side of Mandela as an artist - not as known as him being the President, the international statesman, the boxer, the author, the Noble Peace Laureate, the negotiator and so much more.
So let us pause for a moment at Mandela the artist… I think Mandela – being the humble person we knew him as - was most likely a reluctant artist… maybe when the idea of making these art works came up, he would have said NO I can’t draw or paint, but then being responded to with one of his own quotes: ‘It always seems impossible until it is done…’ As we now know, he then got an Art Coach and it became the reality of what we are seeing here today under the House of Mandela Art Exhibition!
Mandela apparently said to his art coach after the first drawings: “I can say so much with these simple line drawings, why would I write another book when I can tell stories in my drawings!”. I think that is the essence of this exhibition – that these simple drawings are bringing so much to us… they express and represent a history of one of the biggest struggles and triumphs of mankind over suppression under apartheid… a victory under his leadership over an evil system that changed the course of history forever. Small beginnings bringing us a major story and impact with it!
It started with the Struggle Series, 5 images depicting his life story - from his clenched fist, his bound hands, breaking the shackles, his hand extended to a child’s hand etc. Mandela then went on to create another 46 original works also including the Robben Island Series. But before I gave away all the secrets away let us rather get to see the exhibition!
I also can’t wait to finally become an artist by joining my handprint with that of Mandela and other guests. As Mandela said: ‘It always seems impossible until it is done…’
In conclusion, I would also like to thank Dr Makaziwe Mandela and Tukwini Mandela, as well as the other organisers and local authorities for ensuring that this talent of Mandela is shared with the world. Of course this event is allowing for some of you to take ownership of this Mandela artwork to the benefit of worthy charities, extending his legacy for generations to come. Viva Mandela! Viva South Africa!