Mandela shines at the Women’s March
“I got a shock, I was gobsmacked,” said Price, from her Rouxville, Highlands North workshop where she originally created the piece about four years ago.
She was even more amazed to see another photograph of the actress, this time splashed on the pages of the LA Times, again with the necklace featuring prominently. The newspaper’s photograph shows the Oscar-nominated actress and long-time activist alongside smiling American actresses Jurnee Smollett-Bell, known for her role in the period drama piece, Underground, Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Nyong’o and American comedian and actress Yvette Nicole Brown at the March.
It remains a mystery to Price how the acclaimed actress, who once portrayed Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in the late 1980s TV movie Mandela, came to be wearing it and why she chose to wear it at the protest March, which attracts millions of supporters worldwide. The annual Women’s March, now in its second year, is held to support women’s rights, human rights, civil liberties and social justice. It started last year as part of an international protest in the wake of President Donald Trump taking office.
“I have no idea how she got it,” said Price, adding that she was “just so chuffed” that her “simple little design” made it all the way from Johannesburg to the streets of Los Angeles for a protest march that Nelson Mandela himself would have approved of.
“Alfre could have worn gold to the march,” she said, but instead, she chose to wear a very simple necklace with the struggle icon’s photograph, which, according to Price, retails for about R420.
“It was truly humbling to see,” she said.
After meeting former president Mandela at his 91st birthday party in 2009, Woodard told New York magazine that she “was just trembling; not with fear, just with joy and energy. I think I was levitating.”
Price said well-known apartheid photographer Jürgen Schadeberg personally gave her permission several years ago to use his images – including this one – for her designs. The iconic photograph used in this particular neck piece shows a handsome, suited Mandela, in full stride, on the streets of Johannesburg during his days as a young lawyer. The materials used for the piece include aluminium, paper and plastic, with a sterling silver chain, she explained.
“I invented a method of making jewellery with pictures when I lived in Ixopo, in rural South Africa, during the 1990s. On returning to Joburg, I taught a small group of women from Alexandra township my techniques,” said Price, who trained in London and Jerusalem as a goldsmith and silversmith, specialising in enamelling.
“It is possible that this piece was bought in South Africa… There was a big photographic show a few years ago which celebrated apartheid photographers. It took place at Museum Afrika in downtown Johannesburg as well as in Manhattan, New York City at the International Centre for Photography. My ladies and I made work to accompany the exhibitions in both venues. So, it’s possible that she bought it in New York. Of course, it may just be a gift.”
If it were not for her niece, Jodi Price, who came across the Instagram photograph of Woodard, she would have had no idea that the star owned one of her pieces.
“I found the image on Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman’s Facebook page with Alfre tagged… For so many people, the eternal symbol of Mandela reminds us of who we really are at our core as South Africans.”
Woodard, who delivered a moving speech at the march and roused the crowds to raise their arms in solidarity, later told The Times: “We’re not a crowd, we’re individuals with individual histories, standing together to make real what we profess. I wanted people to feel personally charged, and I wanted them to know that activism – and resisting, and building – is a joyful enterprise. It’s a privilege.”
Price says she sells “to anyone who wants a piece. They are fun and easy to wear”, and no doubt they will soon be selling like hotcakes.