The City of Cape Town is paying tribute to former President Nelson Mandela with the Nelson Mandela Legacy Exhibition, which opens in the Civic Centre today and runs for the next ten months.

The City has dedicated 2013 to honouring and celebrating the former South African President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, ‘and will adopt a new set of values and principles to underpin its governance, based on his example‘, says the media release issued by the City.  ‘The Cape Town Honours Nelson Mandela programme is a special Mayoral project formed to pay tribute to the country’s first democratically-elected president; to expose a new generation to his legacy; and to engage Cape Town residents in developing a new moral code for governance in the city. It has the blessing of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory‘, the media statement added.  It is planned that 25000 learners are to see the special exhibition.

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille explained: “Mr Mandela’s greatest gift to South Africa was to provide a template of leadership to which we should all aspire. His generosity of spirit formed the bridge that all South Africans used to cross from our divided past to an inclusive future. He transcended race, he transcended class and he transcended geographic, cultural and political divisions.  The qualities that he personally brought to the hard tasks of achieving our democracy, of creating our Constitution, establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, fostering education and combating HIV and Aids are qualities that the City of Cape Town is committed to emulating’.

To attract attention to the Nelson Mandela Legacy Exhibition, and to honour the beloved father of the nation, the City of Cape Town commissioned  Abie Collins and Alberic Vollmer of Dreamfuel Media to create an artwork of Mr Mandela on the east side of the Civic Centre. It was drawn by Linsey Levendall, an ex-Cape Flats artist now based in Canada, on A3-sized paper, from which a high-definition scan was produced 43 by 17 metres in size on Contra Vision, to allow the City staff to see out of the windows.  The visual was cut into 660 pieces.  A team of abseilers took four days to complete the task of putting the numbered pieces onto the 448 windows.  The visual projects Mr Mandela in one of his iconic shirts, and is designed to capture his grace and humanity, Collins told Die Burger.  A penguin, protea, bunch of grapes, Table Mountain, a Minstrel and the colourful Bo-Kaap are the symbols of Cape Town which have been incorporated into Levendall’s design.

Given the illness of Mr Mandela, the opening of the Nelson Mandela Legacy Exhibition is a must-see for every Capetonian, to pay tribute to his monumental contribution to our city, to our country, and to the world.

Nelson Mandela Legacy Exhibition, Concourse Level, Civic Centre, 12 Hertzog Boulevard, Cape Town. Daily, 10h00 – 18h00, until April 2014. Free entrance.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  Twitter: @WhaleCottage