As former South African President Nelson Mandela undergoes treatment for a recurring lung infection, msnbc’S Chris Jansing toured the Apartheid Museum’s exhibit in his name to learn more about the nation’s first black president.
The exhibit, in Johannesburg, opened in 2008 as a temporary showcase to honor Mandela, but was made permanent after an overwhelming response from the public. The exhibit includes a section devoted to the 27 years Mandela spent in prison for his anti-apartheid leadership. It was there, in the detention facility at Robben Island, where Mandela contracted the tuberculosis that plagues him today.
The Johannesburg exhibit includes a log of the few visits Mandela was permitted from family members during his time in prison. Those rare visits banned any physical contact. Mandela had to speak to family members through a glass divider.
Emilia Potenza, curator of exhibitions & education at the Apartheid Museum said it’s hard to overstate the role Mandela played in South Africa. “He did become the face of the ANC [African National Congress], the face of the anti-apartheid struggle,” she said. “It was recognized that he was an incredibly charismatic, good-looking, sexy man that represented moral good in the world.”