In 2014, I was invited to contribute an essay to a special Mandela issue of the fantastic South African design magazine, ijusi. It was to be featured, along with back issues of ijusi, in the exhibition Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA).
The brief was to write an “alternative essay on Madiba – even if negative of controversial”; not the “‘he gave meaning to my life’ or ‘the greatest human who ever lived’ bunkum.”
The assignment terrified me, not only because of the sense of responsibility to pay a fitting tribute to, quite frankly, the greatest human who ever lived, but because I didn’t have a Mandela story to tell.
So that’s what I wrote about.
Garth Walker, the man behind the magazine and an old friend from my days at Ogilvy & Mather in Durban, had this to say about my essay:
“Fuck me. Nice. A story about nothing, that’s about something.”
You can read that story here.