/ past projects

/ G.R Naidoo: A Generous Eye: Nelson Mandela Foundation / 2009

TRACE was commissioned by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to design and curate an exhibition about the life and work of G.R Naidoo, the first black editor of Drum magazine, and a writer and photographer for that magazine and other publications from the 60's until his death in 1982.

The following extract comes from the Nelson Mandela Foundation website: “The exhibition celebrates the work and life of GR Naidoo, a newshound who was committed to reporting on South Africa’s freedom struggle and who, himself, lived the non-racialism he worked to help create.

Following Nelson Mandela’s wish that the Foundation’s exhibitions should focus on the lives of others in the anti-apartheid struggle, Naidoo was an ideal choice. Mr Mandela had his last dinner of freedom with Naidoo and close comrades at his home in Durban before he was arrested on August 5, 1962. Mr Mandela was sentenced to five years for inciting workers to strike and for leaving the country without a permit. He was sent to Robben Island in May 1963 and shortly thereafter returned to Pretoria to stand trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. On June 12, 1964, Mr Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Raymond Mhlaba, Ahmed Kathrada, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi, Govan Mbeki and Andrew Mlangeni were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Naidoo was a well-respected figure in the anti-apartheid movement “who became a legend in his time”, said Kathrada, who spoke at the launch of the exhibition.

Verne Harris, Head of the Foundation’s Memory Programme, spoke of the challenges involved in putting the exhibition together, the biggest being the scarcity of Naidoo’s work.

“There are only a handful of photos from three decades of work,” said Harris.

But what is shown evokes powerful emotion. Nagamma Naidoo, Naidoo’s wife, told of the nostalgia she felt when walking into the exhibition.

“It was as if he was there looking at me,” she said.

She spoke of how when he was arrested at Livingstone in Zambia, he sent her a letter assuring her that he was alright, but, looking at the letters on display in the exhibition, all those memories came rushing back. “I felt like crying; I admired what he wrote,” she said.

Chandra Naidu, one of Naidoo’s daughter’s, thanked the Foundation for mounting the exhibition.

“GR left a legacy reflected in his life and work as a journalist. His work will inform future generations of the struggle and they will be hugely grateful as we are now,” she said.

She described her deep respect for her father’s work and the gift he had for reporting and photography and urged “all those with a creative inclination to use your gifts”. “ – The Nelson Mandela Foundation (www.nelsonmandela.org)

Tel: +27 82 554 0747 (Lauren) / +27 82 335 4586 (Clive)