International Prize for Contemporary African Photography

Zed Nelson

Born in 1965 in Kampala, Uganda. Lives in London, United Kingdom

South Africa – After Mandela, 2014

Twenty years after the end of Apartheid, South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world. Mandela preached forgiveness and cooperation, and paved the way for a robust democracy. But now he has gone. 

The African National Congress (ANC) came to power with promises that it would improve the lives of the majority Black population. But many Black South Africans today are materially worse off now than they were under Apartheid. The new black elite ruling class may be doing well, but the majority of black South Africans have been left behind.

Ironically, no longer the pariah of the world, South Africa’s white minority are even better off now than they were during the Apartheid era. But with Mandela gone, the nation’s white population are looking over their shoulders. Many fear for their future. 

Without Mandela’s steadying, fatherly influence, there is no consensus about what will happen now: some prophesize ‘the next Zimbabwe’. 80 per cent of privately owned land in South Africa is still in white hands, and young firebrand opposition leaders are calling for radical land re-distribution, Mugabe style. 

The majority poor black population are increasingly frustrated, the white population are increasingly fearful. With the great statesman gone, the stage is set for change. Mandela leaves behind a poignant but fragile legacy – and the question of whether the South Africa that he constructed will long outlast his departure.