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At one point, South Africa banned Mandela's photo

Everyone is coming out of the woodwork to praise Mandela--and rightfully so--but it's important to realize that not so long ago some very awful parts of our country routinely demonized him. And the ruling class in South Africa made it a crime to even possess a photo of him.

Remember: They Outlawed Mandela's Photo - Esquire


If at any point over the coming days, weeks, and months to come, you find yourself confused as to how to navigate the thicket of pictures of Nelson Mandela coming at you in every country in the world, bear in mind this salient fact of history: it was once illegal in South Africa to have a picture of Nelson Mandela in your home.

Look at your Twitter feed, your blog feed, your television channels, your radio, and the front page of every newspaper and magazine tomorrow and remember: it was once illegal to have a picture of Nelson Mandela in your home.

Narrative landscapes can be messy, and they vary from country to country, but there was a time when having a picture of Nelson Mandela in your home was against the law.

We watch too much TV, but there is Mandela on your TV in your home, and there is the old archive footage of him walking hand-in-hand with Winnie Mandela, and there was once a time when he would have had no right to be there, but there he is, there — smiling, present, patient, and sharp and emphatic in his rhetoric and delivery.

There is no such thing as too much media saturation when it comes to Nelson Mandela’s life and Nelson Mandela’s memory, because there was once a time when his image didn’t exist, was illegal. As the moments pass after his death, we see a raised fist — Mandela's fist — finding the screen and breaking through. Ngiyabonga.