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IFA LETHU (article first published : 2006-09-24)

Narissa Ramdhani, CEO of the Ifa Lethu Foundation, has announced that another 13 pieces of art have been acquired by the Foundation from the collection of Steve Itzikowitz, a prominent Johannesburg-based attorney.

Ifa Lethu Foundation, which means ‘our heritage’, is a not-for-profit organisation launched in November 2005 to repatriate South Africa’s “struggle era” art and artifacts that left the country during the 1960s to 1980s.

“We now have repatriated more than 60 pieces of art, including drawings, paintings, carvings, and sculptures from some of South Africa’s best artists of the time,” says Narissa Ramdhani. “These works have come to us either via donations from diplomats who were posted here during the ‘struggle’ years and who recognized the intrinsic importance even then of these works, or from corporate executives who just loved the vibrancy and passion the works depicted.

“These works represent a positive part of our heritage,” she continues, “and it is with great pride that we will be showing them around the country next year when our Goodyear Mobile Heritage Gallery is launched.”

Ifa Lethu exists thanks to the patronage of companies like BHP Billiton Development Trust (BBDT) – the Foundation’s first Platinum Patron with a donation of R1 million per year for three years; seed funding from the Department of Arts and Culture; generous donations of the collections and the commitment of the IFA Lethu Board who give generously of their time.

More good news is the deeding of 20 pieces from the private collection of FW van der Wilk – a Dutch businessman from the Hague who visited South Africa regularly in the 1970s.

“Mr van der Wilk read a recent article about Ifa Lethu in the New York Times and decided to deed his collection to Ifa Lethu on his death,” explains Chairperson Dr Mamphela Ramphele. ”Interest in our activities is touching the hearts and minds of many friends who witnessed South Africa’s struggle for freedom. It is so heartening to see such positive results from this dark era of our past. Our heritage has resulted in the indomitable African spirit being represented in these wonderful art works.”

Narissa Ramdhani adds: “We have many plans for the next phase of Ifa Lethu. The Goodyear Mobile Gallery will be launched in February and will take the collection to communities across the country; we are currently completing work on the production of a children’s book on struggle artists, and we have some really exciting activities in the pipeline for next year such as the launch of an Ifa Lethu range of clothing.”

In the meantime, the search continues to scour the world to bring South Africa’s heritage home.

More information from Narissa Ramdhani on 012 346 2985 or visit www.ifalethu.org.za




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