Launch of our iMadiba 'Conversation Station'

July 27, 2018 | Campus

St Stithians was proud to officially open the eleventh iMadiba site and the seventh of the numbered copies on Tuesday 24th July. The St Stithians College installation has generously been donated by the Chair and Deputy Chair of the school’s council, Mr Carel Nolte and Mrs Ntombi Langa-Royds and St Stithians’ alumni Allan Bader and Lethabo-Thabo Royds, and the school is incredibly grateful for this.  

iMadiba celebrates Mandela’s legacy by creating safe spaces​

During his imprisonment on Robben Island, global icon Nelson Mandela encouraged honest debate, conversing in a circle in which every voice was heard, and discouraging polarisation and the elevation of an individual’s status above that of the rest of the group. 

The iMadiba Project is a global art project that celebrates Nelson Mandela’s legacy through the promotion of conversation in safe spaces.   These cement structures exhibit the exact floor dimensions of Madiba’s Robben Island cell and function as interactive and participative art installations. 

The world’s largest museum for reflection and conversation

The broad intention of the project is to create the world’s largest museum for reflection and conversation in Mandela’s honour by building micro museums throughout South Africa and the world.

The iMadiba Project was conceptualised and created by Stellenbosch-based photographer and artist, Erhardt Thiel. It was built in partnership with and in support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. One of the aims of the project is to assist the foundation in its objectives of honouring Madiba’s legacy. It has been made possible through the support of sponsors, and the ongoing need is to find more sponsors as the project grows. The project also produces income for the foundation.

100 micro museums in Mandela’s 100th year

The project has gained great momentum. To date, there are artist copies at several venues in Stellenbosch. Thiel used these sculptures, together with a similar one which was burnt in the Tankwa Karoo at Afrikaburn, to test the final design. The next sculptures were built at Mthatha and Qunu in the Eastern Cape. Further sculptures can be viewed at the V&A Waterfront, Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton and at the JSE in Johannesburg. Thiel hopes to expand the project to all schools in South Africa and erect at least 100 installations in Madiba’s centenary year, ending 17 July 2019, both locally and globally.

From an oppressive, inhumane system to open conversation

The actual installations, or micro museums, are artistic recreations of Madiba’s Robben Island cell. They have bars, as the cell did, and an open doorway which symbolises that the space is always open for conversation and reflection. People are invited to engage with the installations and understand what Mandela endured by feeling the cold concrete and looking at the bars. The size of the micro museum will bring home to the audience the tiny space in which the former statesman lived for so many years. Through this engagement, we will be reminded of the oppressive, inhumane system that was in place, the work we have done in moving forward, and the work that is still ahead of us.

St Stithians welcomes the conversation 

Dr Tim Nuttal, Rector and Executive Head of St Stithians College stated, “Nelson Mandela had a strong sense of the profound impact of education in shaping individual lives and creating conditions for social progress. It is therefore a privilege and honour for St Stithians College to build on its campus an iMadiba micro museum, participating in this amazing national and global project to honour the legacy of Mandela. St Stithians will cherish this legacy by ensuring that the iMadiba will be a place of meaningful conversation, dialogue, sharing, learning, reflection, and connecting. A place to honour our common humanity”.

Photo credit: Claire Ruiter Photography