Enormous smiling Madiba statue planned for Union Buildings

A nine-metre-high statue of former president Nelson Mandela will be erected at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile has said.

“The Union Buildings has for many years been a symbol of white minority domination,” he said in Johannesburg today.

The statue of Mandela, who remained an “enduring symbol of our struggle for freedom, democracy, dignity, and equality”, would be unveiled by President Jacob Zuma on December 16.

The bronze-plated statue was being created by sculptors Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren. Prinsloo said the project had been a lifelong dream.

He spoke about the difficulties of capturing Mandela’s image and decisions that had to be made on the pose, expression, and age the statue would depict.

“We decided we would give him a smile,” Prinsloo said.

The statue would capture Mandela as he looked about 10 years after his election as South Africa’s first democratic president.

Prinsloo demonstrated the pose the statue would assume, arms outstretched and one foot slightly forward.

The pose intended to convey “how he embraces the nation”, Prinsloo said.

The R8 million statue would be transported in four sections on a flatbed truck and assembled on the lawns of the Union Buildings.

It had to be completed by December 9 to be ready for unveiling on December 16, Reconciliation Day.

The statue would be three metres taller than the six-metre-high Mandela statue at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg.

Mashatile said the statue was part of efforts to establish new symbols to reflect the collective aspirations of South Africans.

“We once more take this opportunity to wish Tata Madiba well as he recovers at his home,” he said.

Thursday marked the 26th day since Mandela was discharged from a Pretoria hospital, where he spent nearly three months being treated for a recurring lung infection.

President Jacob Zuma said in a speech released on Wednesday that Mandela was responding to treatment while convalescing at his Houghton home.


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