Online Exhibit of South Africa’s Constitutional History Made Possible by Tang Prize Grant
2020.09.28
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As an affirmation of the belief that history should not be forgotten, the Albie Sachs Trust for Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law (ASCAROL) launched an online exhibit titled “Our Struggle, Our Freedom, Our Constitution” on South Africa’s Heritage Day. Former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Albie Sachs, along with South African historian and Professor at the Nelson Mandela University Naledi Nomalanga Mkhize, Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture Paul Gardullo, and many esteemed representatives of institutions across the globe that have contributed to the running of this project, were all invited to engage in an online-dialogue. The gathering was focused on sharing with the world for the first time, what has been achieved five years after the project of chronicling the South African Constitution’s history started..  


Former Justice Sachs, who won the inaugural Tang Prize in Rule of Law, decided to use the NT$10 million grant from the Tang Prize Foundation to found ASCAROL, a non-for-profit and public benefit organization entrusted with the task of recording and archiving the invaluable stories of the making of South African Constitution and the Constitutional Court, and also the people who fought for its realization.

 
CEO of the Tang Prize Foundation Dr. Jenn-Chuan Chern travelled to South Africa in 2015 to attend the founding ceremony of ASCAROL and sign a memorandum of agreement with them. Fast forward to 2020, he was invited to participate the online launch of such a historic event in the early hours of Taiwan time, which not only filled him with joy but also made him feel extremely honored that the Foundation can contribute to telling the stories of such a critical period of time. He believes that the exhibit would mark a significant milestone in the realization of the rule of law in South Africa and would set a great example for the rest of the world to follow.

Soon after it was established, ASCAROL started to collaborate with another institution in South Africa, the Constitutional Hill Trust. Pursuing the same objectives, the two organizations started to plan an exhibition of the South African Constitution, backed by funding and technical assistance from various philanthropic private organizations such as the Raith Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. ASCAROL played a key role in creating a physical space to house and put on display the fullness of South Africa’s democracy, including the redesign of the Constitutional Court, profiles of pioneers, patriots and activists during the struggles for freedom, and amazing works created by local artists. It is not only a repository for precious documents but also a reflection of South African people’s collective memory of their past and their longing for a life where human dignity, human rights and the rule of law can be guaranteed.

Professor Mkhize pointed out that the exhibit was aimed to increase young South Africans’ knowledge of the root of their country’s history and culture. She therefore encouraged the younger generation to look into the diverse values that characterize South Africa and the African continent, be proud of their African heritage, and be independent of the influence of the more dominant cultures. The whole event was interspersed with upbeat videos and heavenly choirs that brought the archived documents to life, helping the audience see how the spirit of South African Constitution has been integrated into people’s daily life and get a better understanding of the country’s harrowing experience of breaking free of the bondages and shackles of apartheid, then striding forward to the path of democracy.     

 

The Tang Prize was set up to award people with outstanding achievements in the fields of sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, Sinology and the rule of law. One thing that sets the Tang Prize apart from other academic awards is that, in addition to the NT$40 million prize money, a research grant of NT$10 million is allocated to each category, allowing laureates to designate the funds for projects they choose, so as to improve research and scholarship in their areas of expertise.

 

To watch “The Preamble to the Constitution of South Africa,” please go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxrHcFk6D5M&feature=youtu.be

 

The archive is now available at https://ourconstitution.constitutionhill.org.za/