Bring Nelson Mandela exhibition to Ireland, says director

President Higgins’ visit to South Africa ‘might be a catalyst’, says apartheid museum director

A crowd cheers Nelson Mandela in 2000 as he prepares to be conferred with an honorary degree at Trinity College Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

A crowd cheers Nelson Mandela in 2000 as he prepares to be conferred with an honorary degree at Trinity College Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The Nelson Mandela Exhibition, at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, should be put on show in Ireland, said Christopher Till, director of the museum. “It would be extraordinary to be able to show it in Ireland,” he said.“If we can arrange that and find a venue, and the time and space, we would jump at the opportunity. I am hoping the President’s visit might be a catalyst in making that happen.”

On November 14th, during his visit to South Africa, President Michael D Higgins was given a guided tour of the Apartheid Museum by Mr Till.

“What we would do, as we have done in other countries, is a section on all of the Irish connections, to make it relevant within the context of Ireland,” he said.

The exhibition has been shown internationally and this year it has been to Toronto and Luxembourg. “Taking the legacy of Nelson Mandela and his life to other countries is one of the objectives which has emerged from us doing that exhibition,” said Mr Till.

While still in prison Nelson Mandela was awarded the Freedom of Dublin in 1988. On his release in 1990 he visited Ireland to receive the honour and thank the Irish people for their support. He visited in October 1993 and again in 2000 when he was conferred with an honorary law degree at Trinity College Dublin. His final visit to Ireland was in 2003 when he opened the Special Olympics.

Before all that, in 1964 Nelson Mandela was awarded honorary membership of the Philosophical Society at Trinity College. His 60th birthday, July 18th 1978, was celebrated at Liberty Hall and on June 26th 1983 Dublin City Council dedicated a sculpture in Merrion Square to him.

His 70th birthday was celebrated with a concert by Christy Moore, Sinéad O’Connor and Mary Black at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin. It was on the day after that he was was given Freedom of Dublin at a ceremony in Merrion Square.

Mr Till indicated that the Nelson Mandela Exhibition in Ireland would include tributes to the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, to the contribution of Kader and Louise Asmal, and to the Dunne Stores strikers of the 1980s.