FREEDOM DAY in South Africa

Mandela. 1994. Oil on canvas. 79x63cm
Apr 27, 2021
Mandela. 1994. Oil on canvas. 79x63cm
Mandela. 1994. Oil on canvas. 79x63cm

Nelson Mandela, best known for successfully leading the resistance to the policy of apartheid under white minority rule, became the first fully elected black head of state and President of South Africa (1994-1999), steering the country smoothly to a constitutional non-racial democracy. 


It is difficult to grasp how a man, after being incarcerated for so long (1964-1989), could rise above the suffering and hate to be the recipient of the Nobel Peace prize in 1993. He ‘talked the talk and walked the walk’. South Africa was blessed to have such a beacon of light to illuminate the way forward.



Politically, handcuffs are a loaded iconographic tool. In relationship to Mandela, simplistically they enquire into the nature of power dynamics and the state. A companion work ‘Madiba’ (as Mandela was lovingly known) continues this narrative.

‘Mozart’. 1994. Oil on Canvas. 79x63cm, recontextualises handcuffs with a pair of high healed black and white striped pumps, reminiscent of a very different time and space. The socio-political gulf between the Mandela works and this image are diametrically opposed and all erotic potential and games suggested by the title resonate with different chords. These issues can be debated at length.

About the author

Francine Scialom Greenblatt