Sokari Douglas Camp
“If I did not leave bitterness behind, I would still be in prison”-
Sokari Douglas Camp’s proposal takes the notions of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘hospitality’ as a starting point for representing Nelson Mandela.
Mandela often chose to dress in a loose-fitting shirt of colourful, highly decorative material. He did so even during important events at which he represented South Africa as a statesman. In doing so, he created a style of his own, informal chic: the Madiba shirts.
Incidentally, Mandela’s shirts also fit within a worldwide cultural tradition which stretches from Hawaiian Aloha shirts, to guayabera shirts from Surinam, and Indonesian batik shirts or shirts made from colorful printed Dutch wax fabrics from Vlisco.
Clothing communicates many inferred codes. With his shirts, Mandela hoped to present himself as an approachable person, rather than as a distant president of the country. Possibly he deliberately chose not want to fall back on that ‘Western’ representation of power – the suit and tie.
Sokari Douglas Camp sees Mandela as a warm soul for whom hierarchy was not always paramount. A memorial for ‘the ordinary person’ with no references to power… according to Sokari Douglas Camp, that is what would best represent Mandela.
Accordingly, her proposal for the Nelson Mandela Memorial is thus comprised of a larger-than-life monumental representation of a Madiba shirt. Made from stainless steel, patinated on the outside and silver on the inside, it would be a sculpture that both welcomes and embraces people. The public can walk around the statue or stand in the inner space it creates.
Some of Mandela’s words will also be integrated into the memorial. These would function as an impulse for interpretation of the sculpture. This could be done as a sentence at the top of the sculpture or else as a line of text in the base (most likely made of concrete), on which the sculpture would be placed. The chosen text would be:
“If I did not leave bitterness behind, I would still be in prison.”