“Our kind of video”: Nelson Mandela and South Africa through the eyes of Andrew Jones

When Nelson Mandela died on December 5th, mainstream news media almost universally presented Mandela as a one-dimensional hero for his iconic life and accomplishments. But now that a lot of the coverage has waned, we want to give you another look at Mandela and his impact on South Africans. The archival footage we’ve put together here doesn’t try to give you a complete story of Mandela’s political career. This is a series of video snapshots, moments in time recorded along the way, which show us how people live in their day-to-day lives. This represents “our kind of video”: spontaneous, unstaged, sometimes shaky or a little out-of-focus, but always believable, intimate, and personal, because the viewer is invited to come along with the video maker and experience the world as they do.

All of this footage was shot by Hall of Fame videographer Andrew P. Jones. Jones’ trademark was being in the right place when important things were happening, from South Central L.A. to Panama, Iraq to Chicago. Many of his videos were first seen when he was the Roving Correspondent for the TV series The 90’s that Tom and Joel Cohen produced from 1989 to 1992. Jones’ work as a video journalist was never just work, though. It came from a deep commitment to improving the lives of black people around the world. His interest into the politics of South Africa were deep, ranging from his 1986 proposal for Boston’s African-American communities to form their own city named “Mandela,” to his emigration to South Africa in 1995, where he lived for the rest of his life until his tragic death in 2010.

So when you watch this footage, it isn’t just more TV news about Nelson Mandela and the politics of South Africa—it’s also a look through the eyes of Andrew Jones, who was passionate about what he was looking at, and had a strong, undeniable feeling that it was important and needed to be seen.

Watch more videos by Andrew Jones, as well as an episode of The 90’s on Race and Racism, at Media Burn.

 

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