Photojournalist and Fine artist Jono Wood attended the national Nelson Mandela memorial at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on 10 December 2013 and captured some striking images of the mourners.
Here’s what Jono had to say about this project, the characters he photographed, and Nelson Mandela’s legacy:
I knew from the start that I wanted a different look and feel to main stream media.
I found a single spot where the rain and dark background made the perfect backdrop to focus on the characters at the memorial, as both mourners and as the essence of what Mandela had created through his legacy.
In these characters I learned to see many sides to South Africa, some representing ‘The Old South Africa’ during the struggle while others showed ‘The New South Africa’ and the fruits of democracy, the equality that Mandela dedicated his life to making possible.
I saw a younger generation, my generation, a generation of different racial groups that didn’t have to fight for equality in our society, a direct beneficiary of the struggle – not quite the Born Frees, but free nonetheless. I believe this is one of the major victories of Nelson Mandela’s legacy: a generation who could learn, integrate and lead from an equally balanced racial background, where good ideas should mean more than the colour of your skin, and a progressive mindset is socially motivated more than that of a segregated or oppressive one.
I also saw an older black generation who had lived under an oppressive rule for more than forty years. A generation who practiced an unbelievable amount of patience, unity, forgiveness and love. These South Africans were the people who decided to obey the requests for a peaceful transfer of power into the democracy we know today. These people are the reason South Africa didn’t swing into a state of turbulence and violent acts of revenge, but instead grew. These people are the guardians of ‘The New South Africa’.
I saw a nation mourning a great leader. A man of such humility that it shocked the world. I saw a nation celebrating a full life, a life dedicated to the fertility of a nation and a man we have to thank for the Nation that we live in today.
Check out Jono Wood’s website for some of his other projects.