Artist Ayanda Mabulu has shocked us again – this time depicting President Jacob Zuma raping former president Nelson Mandela
”It was highly upsetting for me to paint this thing. It was like bleeding through my nails,” Mabulu told News24 as his latest work elicited a series of shocked tweets in response.
”I did it way before … the president did the reshuffle. As a citizen of this country, I know how things are.”
With a backdrop of a red and white sunray design, radiating out of an African National Congress logo, a nude Zuma and Mandela appear to be having sex on an ornate gold and red chair.
Mandela rests his hand on his chest, with a laughing Zuma under him, and at first glance Mandela appears to be comfortable. But on closer inspection, there is blood on Mandela’s private parts, and a tear rolling down his cheek. This, according to Mabulu, is a scene of rape.
The reaction on Twitter was swift:
Why did i even open this Ayanda Mabulu trend pic.twitter.com/h8gAcNG3LJ
— Don (@donvuyo) April 20, 2017
This Ayanda Mabulu painting is so disrespectful, what message was he tryna get across??
It's sickening really wish I could unsee it 😷😷
— Xoliswa (@_Xoli_) April 20, 2017
Mabulu continued, ”Nelson Mandela is me, Nelson Mandela is you, Nelson Mandela is your neighbour. Nelson Mandela is everyone.
”He was hope, back in 1994, something to hold onto. The dreams of hope, everything Mandela and the people fought for were thrown into the rubbish by these people who did not care.”
He said the ANC had created a sense of normality about protests, but the civil action had proved that people are not voiceless.
”Do we only have to march for a day? For a few hours?” he asked. ”The time to talk is over now. I think we need to do something.
”What creeps in the minds of the people is Mandela. Mandela as far as I know – may he rest in peace – because he sees his people [are] being raped.”
He said the country was in the situation it was in because of people who do not have a conscience.
”Do we go there and create a nice beautiful artwork that is going to hang in Sandton? F*ck that. We cannot metaphorsise bullshit here. It’s personal. It is f*cken personal right now.”
Mabulu said he expected the ”culture card” to be pulled against him, and for critics to accuse him of being disrespectful about black bodies. He feels that it is the president who is against blackness.
”To be black is to understand the importance of your neighbour and to put your neighbour first.”
”Our black president died in 2013 (when Mandela died). And [Steve] Biko and [Thomas] Sankara have been reborn in us.”
The Nelson Mandela Foundation has said that while it respects Mabulu’s right to freedom of expression, it found the painting “distasteful”. “[We] appreciate that the public is offended by it [the painting].”
The Presidency could not be reached for comment.