Photos capture Dutch solidarity in the struggle

Struggle veterans acknowledged the role the Dutch played in the fight against apartheid at a photographic exhibition honouring and depicting the life of Nelson Mandela.

Hosted by the Netherlands embassy, the exhibition is titled Signs of Solidarity: The Dutch Against Apartheid. It presents material from several sources, but mainly from the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.

Among the photographs is one that shows Mandela’s first visit to the Netherlands. He is standing on a balcony and addressing a huge crowd.

Marisa Gerards, the ambassador of the Netherlands, said at the exhibition’s launch: “I am glad that we can tell a story of solidarity and friendship. South Africa fought a cruel and inhumane system, but peace was found through negotiations, which was a good process to the world. 

We also visited the torture rooms in the Castle [of Good Hope] … By putting the exhibition here, it tells a story of people who found each other.”

Countries united  
Advocate Albie Sachs said that the Netherlands was not the only country that supported the anti-apartheid struggle, but it was the most dedicated. “We received enormous support from India, the Scandinavian countries, New Zealand because of the rugby, the United Kingdom, but the Netherlands was the most dedicated. And you had no rugby teams or huge investments in South Africa.

“Millions of Dutch people felt that apartheid was a moral issue. I like visiting the Netherlands, especially their museums. Dutch people have huge determination. You will see this in the photos in the exhibition.”

The Dutch were against the fact that the majority of South Africans had no voting rights in their own country, he said.

“This also makes me think about Beyers Naudé, who was expelled from the Dutch Reformed Church because he was involved in the struggle so that people could go to university. And, of course, the late André P Brink with his ideas of diversity.”

A pillar of solidarity 
Poet Antjie Krog told a story of how, when she was teacher in the Free State, a matric class and a group of Dutch pupils “found” each other in 1989 on a bus during a school outing.

The chief executive of the Castle Control Board, Calvyn Gilfellan, said he was 28 years old when Mandela was released from prison.

“The struggle was fought on different fronts, which included the United Democratic Front and international solidarity. I remember that, in 1987, Bono said artists should unite against apartheid. And today the world looks at us as a pillar of solidarity.”

The exhibition will be showing at the Castle of Good Hope (until March 11), the University of Cape Town (March 13 to April 3) and Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn (April 6 to 12). For more information, contact the Netherlands embassy on [email protected]

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


‘Frustrated’ police resort to force

Regulation uncertainty leaves slap-happy police and soldiers to decide when people should or shouldn’t be allowed on the streets

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders