Teaching Idea Nelson Mandela

Leanne Morgan

Staff member
I recently came across this interesting article about a Nelson Mandela exhibition titled 'Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition' at the Melbourne Museum. The author, Andrea Witcomb, professor of Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies at Deakin University, makes some interesting and valid arguments about the way that the exhibition "eulogises" Nelson Mandela. The problem with doing so, she argues, is that this does not allow for a fuller explication of Mandela's legacy within and beyond South Africa. She suggests that the exhibition could also help visitors answer broader questions such as:
  • What is it that those fighting for human rights can learn from Mandela?
  • What are the difficult questions his activism raises for those fighting on behalf of the oppressed?
  • Are there other contexts in which his life might have meaning?
Read more: Mandela My Life is a welcome tribute to a hero, but avoids difficult questions
I have done a slightly different take on Nelson Mandela when I have taught Nelson Mandela in Modern History. The question that we focused on was:
To what extent did Nelson Mandela’s actions offer hope and contribute to ending apartheid in South Africa?

I have included my source sheet as an attachment. Please note that the fourth source on the page is not numbered because it was later found to be somewhat fabricated - you can read more about the controversy here. I have included it on the sheet to facilitate discussion with students about source reliability and evaluation. I am happy to share additional resources from this unit if you would like. Feel free to contact me or message below.


  • Mandela Sources.docx
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