Series 0589 - Struggle T-shirts: Public Testimony and Political Protest' Exhibition

Identity area

Reference code

ZA COM NMFPC-0589

Title

Struggle T-shirts: Public Testimony and Political Protest' Exhibition

Date(s)

  • 2019-02-12 (Creation)

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Series

Extent and medium

29 X Still Images (.JPEG)
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()

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Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Transferred by Ethel Arends to the Nelson Mandela Foundation

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The Struggle T-shirts: Public Testimony and Political Protest Exhibition Photographs. The exhibition is curated by Frances Andrew and draws on the extensive South African History Archive collection of struggle T-shirts.

The notion of using a T-shirt as a way of making a political statement first came into prominence in South Africa during the anti-apartheid movement, and “struggle T-shirts” were worn not only at rallies and political events, but also at funerals, where special designs were created to celebrate the life and legacy of deceased leaders, and at the release of those leaders who were serving sentences in apartheid jails.

Calls for the release of Mandela and others were emblazoned on many T-shirts both in South Africa and the world. Described by Andrew as “a political imperative for which the physical self was willingly placed in direct danger in order to resist”, the struggle T-shirt was used particularly to unite activists during mass protests by organisations such as the United Democratic Front, civic associations and workers’ unions.

However, outside of political protests and rallies these T-shirts also become ordinary, everyday pieces of clothing, which, as Andrew explains, is where “the true power of the T-shirt was activated”.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

System of arrangement

NMF Original Digital Photo Taxonomy: 3.2.31

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Conditions governing access

Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Some materials may contain personal or confidential information. Access to these materials may be restricted as stipulated by legislation, Archives policy, or the donor. Please consult the archivist for details.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyrighted and full conditions governing reproduction allocated to the NMF. External reproduction with the express permission of the copyright holder ©Nelson Mandela Foundation/Ethel Arends. Upon written approval, collection item(s) can only be used once for the purpose stated and approved in the request. Collection item should not be shared with third parties nor commercially or personally archived. Copyright and source credits must be cited when exhibiting/publishing and additionally embedded for online use.

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JPEG Files

Finding aids

NMF Digital Photo Taxonomy
NMF Digital Photo Inventory

Allied materials area

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NMF Archive
CD#0589

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Description prepared on 15 October 2019 by Tshabalala, Lerato

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