In 1991 the city of Zoetermeer built a tubular bridge across highway A12 in the city colours yellow and blue to connect the centre with new housing estates at the edge of the city. Hundreds of times Jan Dirk van der Burg crossed the bridge, after all it was the shortest way to the only coffeeshop in town. He even developed a knack for taking his bike up the escalator as you had to in order to access the bridge.
It is not pretty, the Nelson Mandela bridge. After only a few years the lamps began to fall off due to metal fatigue, the elevator smells of piss and at one end the wind always knocks you over. What would Nelson Mandela think of this tribute? Is the urge to have the name Mandela within the city limits not bigger than the allure of the place named after him?
Zoetermeer is not the only Dutch city to have a place named after Mandela. Apparently, other than members of the Royal family there is no person alive who has so many places devoted to him.
Together with Stefanie Grätz, Van der Burg set out to capture an image of each street, lane, square, park, bridge and school in the Netherlands named after Mandela in order to map the Dutch tribute to the first black president of South Africa.
Jan Dirk van der Burg (1978) photographs and films. He also creates books and in addition to Twitter biographer he is also the national authority on Olifantenpaadjes, the Dutch term for desire lines, the shortest route from A to B.
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