Thursday, 15 September 2016

A Gift from the New South Africa

Cruet sets. Right to left: Mandela and De Klerk (2016.44.1), Tutu and Terre Blanche (2016.44.2) and Elizabeth II and Prince Philip (2016.44.3) © Pitt Rivers Museum
I have recently accessioned an interesting new acquisition of Africana into the collections. At the time of the first free elections in South Africa in 1994 a local pottery in Bryanston, S. Africa, called Baker Street originals produced two salt and pepper sets, one depicting Nelson Mandela and F.W. Klerk and the other Archbishop Tutu and Eugene Terre Blanche; subsequently at the time of the Queen's state visit to South Africa a couple of years later they produced a third set representing the Queen and Prince Philip. Baker Street trading the manufacturers of the cruet sets was established in 1986 and through the years has manufactured various items for the home and garden including the now famous and collectable cruet sets of South African political figures. The company are still manufacturing goods but no longer produce the cruet sets, which were produced in small quantities. The Mandela and De Klerk and the Archbishop Tutu and Terre Blanche sets were donated with their original packing, a cardboard box illustrated by South African cartoonist Peter Mascher, who has worked for South African newspapers Beeld, Citizen and Daily Dispatch. The cruet sets are made from terracotta and have been hand painted, they are caricatures of the famous South African political figures and British monarch. Mandela and Tutu were famously anti-apartheid freedom fighters whilst the position of De Klerk is more complicated, he was Head of State under the apartheid era but helped to broker the end of apartheid and supported the transformation of South Africa into a non-racial democracy whilst Terre Blanche was a white supremacist, a major figure in the right-wing backlash against the collapse of apartheid.

Pepper shaker depicting Nelson Mandela (2016.44.1 .1)  © Pitt Rivers Museum
Pair of salt and pepper shakers depicting Archbishop Tutu and Eugene Terre Blanche with souvenir cardboard box (2016.44.2) © Pitt Rivers Museum
Following a series of tense negotiations and years of liberation struggle, the first democratic election was held in South Africa on the 27th April, 1994. This election changed the history of South Africa. It paved the way towards a new democratic dispensation and a new constitution for the country. For the first time all races in the country were going to the polls to vote for a government of their choice. Nineteen political parties participated and twenty-two million people voted. The African National Congress (ANC) won the election, they formed the Government of National Unity and Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president. De Klerk was the last Head of State of South Africa under the apartheid era and acted as deputy president during the presidency of Mandela. Controversially, the Nobel Peace Prize 1993 was awarded jointly to Mandela and De Klerk "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa"

Pepper shaker depicting Queen Elizabeth II (2016.44.3 .1)  © Pitt Rivers Museum
Queen Elisabeth II visited Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Port Elisabeth between the 19 - 25th March 1995 on a state visit to South Africa. It was the first visit of a British monarch since 1947. Her trip marked the country's return to the Commonwealth following the election of its first multi-racial government. Her visit was as Head of State visiting an independent country and also as Head of the Commonwealth to mark South Africa's return to the organisation in July 1994.

Faye Belsey
Assistant Curator 

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