Mandela’s Life and Legacy Celebrated in London Exhibition

LONDON – For a man who spent nearly three decades in prison, the passage of time was no doubt important to Nelson Mandela.

FILE PHOTO: Nelson Mandela laughs with journalists and performers participating in the second 46664 AIDS awareness campaign concert near the small Southern Cape province town of George. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

So it is perhaps fitting that an exhibition which opened in London on Friday about his life and legacy features his watch, which was always kept on South African time wherever he traveled in the world as the country’s first black president.

The interactive exhibition takes a journey though Mandela’s life including his upbringing in rural Eastern Cape as the son of a chief, his 27-year incarceration and the end of apartheid when he became president in 1994. Mandela died in 2013 aged 95.

FILE PHOTO: Nelson Mandela, accompanied by his wife Winnie, walks out of the Victor Verster prison near Cape Town after spending 27 years in apartheid jails in this February 11, 1990, file photo. REUTERS/Ulli Michel/File Photo

It features previously unseen footage alongside more than 150 artefacts such as clothes, campaign posters and travel documents on loan from the family of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and museums and archives worldwide.

“My grandfather, during his presidential years, he wore a watch, a Philippe Patek watch, and I’ve made that watch available because he gave me that watch and I think because he was such a committed person and always on time,” grandson Mandla Mandela told Reuters.

“Even when he traveled abroad his watch remained on South African time which we found hilarious as a family, but that watch is also here on display.”

London is the first city to host the touring show “Mandela: The Official Exhibition” before it is permanently mounted in Mandela’s birthplace Mvezo.

FILE PHOTO: Tributes for former President Nelson Mandela are seen at the South African High Commission in London December 6, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo

“It’s our generation’s responsibility to ensure that we record history for generations to come to understand the character and to understand the glorious human achievement of Nelson Mandela,” Zelda La Grange, his personal presidential aide and the exhibition’s guest curator, said.

If you’re a South African expat in London: visit the exhibition at 26 Leake Street Gallery, London SE1 7NN. It’s open daily from 10h00 to 18h00, with the last admission at 17h00. More info:

(Reporting by Soraya Ali; Writing by Alison Williams; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian)

WATCH Mandela: The Official Exhibition