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The Hard-Won Path From Apartheid to Democracy

University Library celebrates 20th anniversary of Mandela’s election

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April 28, 2014 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University Library is marking 20 years of democracy in South Africa with film screenings, lectures, an online video of first person accounts of the 1994 election of Nelson Mandela and an exhibit culled from the collections of Northwestern’s famed Herskovits Library of African Studies and from University Archives. 

The exhibit -- “From Apartheid to Democracy: 20 Years of Transition in South Africa” – runs through Aug. 29 at both Northwestern University Library and Deering Library. It not only explores South Africa’s first democratic election and 20 years of democracy but also looks at Northwestern’s role in the global anti-Apartheid movement. 

The exhibit includes artifacts as diverse as anti-Apartheid posters, an app of humorous South African political cartoons and the first 1994 election ballot.

For information about film presentations -- include an April 30 screening of “Cry the Beloved Country” and May 21 screening of “Invictus” -- and lectures by Northwestern faculty Richard Joseph (April 28), Alvin Tillery Jr. (May 5) and Doug Foster (May 15), visit Apartheid to Democracy: 20 Years of Transition in South Africa.  

The online video featuring Chicagoans who served as “observers” of the 1994 election was created exclusively for the Northwestern University Library exhibit by Herskovits Library staffers. They include Erik Ponder, Alice Li, Samuel Rong and John Kannenberg.

“The 1994 election of Nelson Mandela -- one of many prisoners under the oppressive Apartheid regime -- was a landmark achievement that was not won without struggle,” says Esmeralda Kale, bibliographer at the Herskovits Library and exhibit co-curator with Kannenberg and Ponder. “Our goal is to remind visitors that protest and civil engagement can make a very real difference in the world.”

For more information about the library’s celebration of 20 years of democracy in South Africa, visit Apartheid to Democracy: 20 Years of Transition in South Africa.