The first phase of the 10-year Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) public art legacy programme will start on Friday 30 October with the unveiling of the Madiba Shirt sculpture and the official opening of the Beyers Naudé Garden of Contemplation.
The launch of the public art programme coincides with a visit by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who will give a keynote address on “conscious leadership” at the University’s South Campus Auditorium. His talk, to be followed by a panel discussion, marks the culmination of a three-year relationship between the Kagiso Trust and NMMU’s Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy (CANRAD).
Both the sculpture by NMMU’s art students and the Garden of Contemplation by its gardeners located at the heart of the University’s South Campus celebrate the concepts of multiple struggle leadership, struggle icons, and a shared value system between Naudé and Mandela. The values of both icons are link to those of the university.
“Public art plays an important role in the academic community, fostering critical thinking, inspiring creativity, and pushing viewers to move past the tangible knowledge into that which can only be conceived through a process of deeper engagement and thought,” says Michael Barry, NMMU Arts and Culture head.
Both the Beyers Naudé garden, which is intended to create space for reflection by staff, students and visitors, and the sculpture are aimed at provoking thought and contemplation.
President Mbeki will accompany Rev Frank Chikane, the Chairman of the Kagiso Trust, Mr Johan Naude (son of Beyers Naude) and his family, and Prof Denise Zinn, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning at NMMU as they officiate in the official opening on the public art precinct.
The Beyers Naudé Memorial Lectures – a Kagiso Trust initiative – are held over three-year cycles at the various tertiary institutions in South Africa. 2015 marks the third and final year of the series in partnership with CANRAD at NMMU.
“The theme of this final dialogue ‘conscious leadership’ is fitting as we reflect on Beyers Naude’s leadership praxis and the role of active citizens 21 years into our political democracy,” says CANRAD Director Alan Zinn.
The purpose of the lecture series – which began in 2004, the year the Afrikaans anti-apartheid cleric Naudé died – is to keep his legacy alive, and to remember the values that are integral to making South Africa a country its citizens are proud to call home.
Naudé was a founding trustee of the Kagiso Trust, alongside Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Dr Max Coleman, Reverend Frank Chikane and the late Prof Jakes Gerwel, among others.
Furthermore, 2015 marks the celebration of several milestones. It would have been Dr Naudé’s 100th birthday, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Kagiso Trust and the 10th year of NMMU’s existence.
NMMU has called for tenders for a Nelson Mandela statue to be erected near the South Campus library, and has already initiated a “Voices of Africa” bench project for its Missionvale Campus as part of its ongoing public art legacy programme.
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