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Nelson Mandela: the last portrait photo shoot


December 6, 2013/13.07

Photographer Adrian Steirn’s film, 21 Icons South Africa, was released in the summer, and featured footage with Nelson Mandela, who passed away Thursday night South African time, aged 95.
   Mandela was a symbol of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid, and was incarcerated by the country’s government for his active opposition to the racist, anti-democratic policy.
   After spending 27 years in jail at Victor Verster Prison on Robben Island, Mandela was released in February 1990 by then-president F. W. de Klerk, who had decided to bring about the end of apartheid.
   Upon his release, Mandela expressed no bitterness toward the apartheid régime and, instead, urged forgiveness toward it.
   Mandela became the country’s first democratically elected president in 1994, after winning the Nobel Peace Prize the previous year with de Klerk, and regarded as the father of the modern nation by some.
   During his imprisonment, he became a symbol for equality and freedom-fighting around the world.
   In his later years, Mandela suffered from an ongoing lung complaint that had seen him hospitalized on many occasions.
   Steirn says he became fascinated by the recent history of South Africa and its struggles, and had hoped he would get to shoot Mandela. He was originally told that that would be impossible, but his persistence led to the former president sitting for the portrait. The final shot is of Mandela looking into a mirror.
   The footage shown below shows the making of the image, and features interviews with George Bizos, Ahmed Kathrada, the Most Rev Archbishop Desmond Tutu and de Klerk.

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