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Rivonia Trialists Quilt

Rivonia Trialists
Fina Nkosi
South Africa
1940s
67 " x 73"
Cotton\polyester, polyester filling
Machine pieced, machine appliqued, hand quilted
MSU Museum Accession 2014:24.2
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved by MSU Museum

This is a duplicate, made in 2014, of one also commissioned in 2014 from artists and sisters Phina Nkosi and Vangile Zulu of Soweto, South Africa by Marsha MacDowell and C. Kurt Dewhurst as a present from MSU to Ahmed Kathrada on the occasion of his 85th birthday, August 26, 2014.  The two women have, as of 2014, worked together at two sewing machines in a small rented space in the High Court Building at the corner of Fox and Joubert Street in Johannesburg. Prior to that they were affiliated with the Zamani Sewing Group, an economic development activity, located in Soweto.

At the Rivonia Trial (named for the farm where most of the accused were caught) the defendants were ANC leaders accused of treason against the South African government. The Trialists included Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni, Elias Motsolaledi, Ahmed Kathrada, Billy Nair, Denis Goldberg, Lionel Bernstein, Bob Hepple, Arthur Goldreich, Harold Wolpe, and James Kantor.  All but Nair and Hepple are depicted on the quilt.

Goldberg, Bernstein, Hepple, Wolpe, Kantor and Goldreich were white Jews, Kathrada and Nair were Indian, and Sisulu, Mbeki, Motsoaledi and Mhlaba were Xhosa, while Sisulu had a Xhosa mother and a white father. Goldreich and Wolpe escaped from prison. [from Wikipedia, November 2014] 

Two of the trialists are not pictured in this quilt. The two artists, used a poster produced by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation that commemorated the Trial as a source of the images they used on the quilt. The poster 

Wolpe has a connection to Michigan. His relative, Harold Wolpe, was a US representative and a strong anti-apartheid worker.




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