Nelson Mandela Mural by Shepard Fairey

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Nelson Mandela
Mandela by Shepard Fairey.jpg
Artist Shepard Fairey
Year 2014
Type Spraypaint and acrylic
Dimensions 28.8 m × 7 m (94.5 ft × 23 ft)
Location Johannesburg, South Africa

The Nelson Mandela Mural is Shepard Fairey's first work in Africa. It is a 10-storey, 2,174 ft2 (201.6 m2) public artwork on Juta Street in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, completed in September 2014. It pays tribute to Nelson Mandela and the 25th anniversary of the Purple Rain Protest. The mural overlooks the Nelson Mandela Bridge, and is seen by many as a sequel to Fairey's iconic Barack Obama HOPE poster.

"It is a huge exclamation point in the heart of Johannesburg..." said Patrick Gaspard, American Ambassador to South Africa, "...It forces us to stop, and remember the long struggle for freedom in this country, and the miraculous achievements of Nelson Mandela."

The Purple Rain Protest was a turning point in South Africa's struggle against Apartheid. Peaceful protesters faced down Riot Police armed with tear gas, batons, attack dogs, and a new weapon — a water cannon filled with purple dye to "spraypaint" the demonstrators for later arrest. The confrontation turned into political theater, when a protester seized control of the cannon, and turned it back on the Police, painting them.

The next day graffiti appeared and quickly spread, declaring "The Purple Shall Govern", a pun on the Freedom Charter’s key phrase: "The People Shall Govern". It was the Apartheid government's last attempt to suppress dissent. Four months later, Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, and in 1994 became the first president of a new democratic South Africa.

The project was curated and produced by Jesse Stagg with the support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the U.S. State department, Play Braamfontein, and the South African Consulate of Los Angeles.

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