Nelson Mandela and Batik, Love Story In Batik Indonesia

After we discuss the Second President of Indonesia Mr. Soeharto and his love story with batik, we move on to a very inspiring figure. Anti-apartheid figure, peacemaker and anti-discrimination race, South African President Nelson Mandela. With pride we will discuss as an inspiration and true story of how Nelson Mandela fell in love with Indonesian batik.

Different from President Soeharto, Mandela totality in using batik in all state visits, to the UN visit he also uses batik as his best clothes.

Nelson Mandela and Soeharto

The story of Soeharto and Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is a well known anti-apartheid fighter, he was even imprisoned for opposing racial discrimination. When he got out of jail on Roben Island. At that time he still had to keep fighting to eliminate racial discrimination that still happens in South Africa. And he intends to ask for support to the Indonesian Government for its struggle to erase apartheid in his country. The Indonesian government immediately approved it, when President Soeharto was still president of Indonesia.

┬áNelson Mandela starting love batik began when he visited Indonesia as a representative of the African National Congress in 1990, and was greeted by President Soeharto. As a souvenir upon the arrival of Nelson Mandela, the Indonesian government gave batik as a souvenir. Indonesia’s support for Nelson Mandela and anti-apartheid made Mandela flattered and returned to Indonesia in 1997, when he was already President of South Africa.

Interestingly, President Nelson Mandela wore batik as his state dress, at which time even President Soeharto was surprised because he himself wore a full suit to greet Mandela. Since then Nelson Mandela has always been wearing batik for his visits to various countries. According to him, the complicated process and manufacture of batik is the same thing as how Mandela struggled.


Batik and South Africa

From the moment Mandela used batik as a state dress, the people of south africa tend to be reluctant to wear batik because of the shyness of a Nelson Mandela who is considered a great man who contributed to the struggle to liberate South Africa from apartheid. So batik is called by them as Madiba’s Shirt, because people call Nelson Mandela as Madiba.

At that time Nelson Mandela using batik draft Iwan Tirta, Indonesian batik maestro who also fell in love with batik and realize his love through batik motifs are very elegant and meticulous. And for Mandela Iwan Tirta only makes one special motive for a Nelson Mandela.

In its development the South African designers began to make batik designs for Mandela because of the distance to just make batik in Indonesia. Currently batik has grown in South Africa, although the process and manufacture is not as complicated in Indonesia and its motives are mostly synonymous with the local culture.


As a great man, even very large, Nelson Mandela is an international figure who introduces batik to the world. Without prompting and without needing to endorse. He is a real example of how unfortunately he was to Indonesian batik so that when he died, the last batik shirt he wore was the Indonesian batik shirt. The symbol of the proximity of Indonesia and South Africa with Mandela’s favorite batik.

When compared with Indonesian officials or the Indonesian people themselves who wear batik only when there is a big event, to the invitation or marriage. Nelson stood wearing his batik everyday. It is a hard slap to the Indonesian people themselves who are reluctant to wear batik because of personal idealism or even shame is called ancient tradition.

From here at least we know that out there, Indonesia is a big country, do not let the struggle of Nelson Mandela just become a fairy tale when our children sleep, but make it as a new spirit to love their own culture and preserve batik through real evidence.

Thank You Nelson Mandela, respect for you and South Africa from Indonesia
Regards, Indonesian Batik
Posted in International Article.

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