Nelson Mandela by Jürgen Schadeberg

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Jürgen Schadeberg, [Nelson Mandela with Ruth First at the ANC Congress, Bloemfontein, South Africa], December 1951. Collection International Center of Photography; purchased with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2014

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Jürgen Schadeberg, [ANC President JS Moroka, leader of the ANC Youth League Nelson Mandela, and Yusuf Dadoo President of the South African Indian Congress, meeting outside Johannesburg Courtroom during the Defiance Campaign Trial, Johannesburg], 1952. Collection International Center of Photography; purchased with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2014

The 20th anniversary of democracy in South Africa has been marked this year by a wide range of events throughout the nation, including the ICP exhibition Rise and Fall of Apartheid in 2013, organized by Okwui Enwezor. As that exhibition shows, for over 50 years photographers vividly represented and participated in the opposition to the repressive apartheid system that kept white and black South Africans segregated by law.

An early leader in the nonviolent protest movement was Nelson Mandela (1918–2013), who was imprisoned for 27 years and in 1994 became the first democratically elected president of South Africa. In this rare photograph from December 1951, the 33-year-old lawyer Mandela is shown meeting with journalist and activist Ruth First (1925–1982) at the first convention of the African National Congress (ANC), where the anti-apartheid Defiance Campaign was originally conceived and planned. The historic press image was taken by German-born photojournalist Jürgen Schadeberg (b. 1931) for the South African cultural magazine Drum, where, as picture editor, he covered the apartheid years and employed outlawed black photographers like Ernest Cole and Peter Magubane. For his distinguished 60-year career in photography, much of it documenting the life of Nelson Mandela and the modern cultural history of South Africa, in 2014 Schadeberg was awarded ICP’s highest honor, the Cornell Capa Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chief Curator Brian Wallis

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About claartjevandijk

Assistant Curator, Collections at the International Center of Photography, New York
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