Man­dela art ex­hibit opens at Clin­ton Li­brary in Lit­tle Rock

Texarkana Gazette - - METRO/STATE - By Kelly P. Kis­sel

LIT­TLE ROCK—Pho­tographs com­mis­sioned by the Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion along with a re-cre­ation of the for­mer South African pres­i­dent’s prison cell and mem­o­ra­bilia from for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton high­light a tem­po­rary ex­hibit at Clin­ton’s li­brary in Lit­tle Rock.

Clin­ton opened the ex­hibit while vis­it­ing Lit­tle Rock to mark the 60th an­niver­sary of the de­seg­re­ga­tion of the city’s Cen­tral High School. He called “Man­dela: The Jour­ney to Ubuntu” a must-see.

“Look at the art. Look at Man­dela’s life. Look at all the peo­ple who are try­ing to live by that in Africa to­day, es­pe­cially young peo­ple, and I think you will leave these ex­hibits more hope­ful than you en­tered them,” Clin­ton said.

Matthew Will­man pho­tographed Man­dela in his fi­nal years and his work is cen­tral to the col­lec­tion pre­sented by the Na­tional Un­der­ground Rail­road Free­dom Cen­ter in Cincin­nati. Vis­i­tors can en­ter a replica of the 8-foot-by-7foot prison cell where Man­dela was held for 18 of the 27 years he was held as a po­lit­i­cal pris­oner in a coun­try he later ran. A padded mat lay on the floor; the cell door closes.

“We all gen­er­ally know he was a great man who was con­fined for 27 years and came out and in­stead of be­ing hate­ful he in­vited his jail­ers to his in­au­gu­ra­tion,” Clin­ton said. “He lived by the spirit of what is in the Zulu lan­guage called ‘Ubuntu.’ It means in English ‘I am be­cause you are.’ We like to think we ex­ist sep­a­rate from one another but we don’t.”

The ex­hibit closes Feb. 19. A com­pan­ion ex­hibit, “Art of Africa: One Con­ti­nent, Lim­it­less Vi­sion,” in­cludes ar­ti­facts Clin­ton re­ceived dur­ing his pres­i­dency—in­clud­ing fab­rics, masks and wood carv­ings.

“The African gifts have al­ways been the heart and soul of this col­lec­tion. Along with the head of state gifts, the gifts from the African peo­ple will move and will fill you with awe,” Clin­ton Li­brary Di­rec­tor Terri Gar­ner said at the ded­i­ca­tion last month.

Clin­ton and Man­dela met be­fore ei­ther one was elected pres­i­dent—Clin­ton in 1992 and Man­dela in 1994. Clin­ton said he learned from Man­dela to not hold onto anger de­spite the chal­lenges he faced in of­fice. One let­ter on dis­play in­cludes Man­dela thank­ing Clin­ton for vis­it­ing South Africa in 1998—writ­ten the day af­ter a fed­eral judge tossed out a sex­ual ha­rass­ment law­suit against the sit­ting pres­i­dent.

“… we could not but feel great joy at the rul­ing …,” Man­dela wrote.

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