Image source: Twitter (@sr20nos)
The 1.95m bronze Madiba statue was unveiled to the citizens of Cape Town on Tuesday, 24 July, during a ceremony attended by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and representatives of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, amongst others.
The statue will now take pride of place on the same balcony where Madiba first addressed thousands of eager South Africans with the words: “Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans. I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all.”
Creating opportunities for more citizens
Unveiling the statue, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said the best way to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela is to build an economy that creates opportunities for more citizens.
“This statue will form part of the new Madiba Legacy tourism route, which is expected to attract many more visitors to our region. The route begins at Robben Island, and moves through historic landmarks such as Parliament, before ending here at City Hall,” Zille said.
MEC for Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said the statue pays tribute to a remarkable man in South African history and recalls a moment that held so much promise and opportunity, which most South Africans will never forget.
“As the Western Cape government, we wanted to create something that not only honours the man that Nelson Mandela was, but which will ensure that the citizens of the country he loved so dearly will also benefit. The legacy project is about growing tourism, expanding the economy to create new jobs and about telling the stories of the Western Cape in a way that honours its people,” Winde said.
Triumph of a generation of leaders
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said Madiba standing on the balcony after 27 years in prison symbolised the triumph of a generation of leaders that sacrificed everything for freedom.
“That historic moment has now been captured in this life-sized monument. This is a fitting tribute to an extraordinary leader and will be a physical reminder to current and future generations of the sacrifices he made during the liberation struggle.
“May it also serve as a reminder that we must all strive to emulate his example of living in service to others for the betterment of our communities and country,” De Lille said.
Precious moment for the country
The tender for the statue was awarded to Koketso Growth, headed up by Dali Tambo. Artists Barry Jackson and Xhanti Mpakama were commissioned to complete the tribute.
Tambo said the process began with answering the question: “How do we recall that moment in time best?
“We wanted it to be perfect. It’s going to be there for more than 300 years with some waxing and polishing, and so you want people, now and in the future, to be gifted by it, to remember that special moment.
“That moment in time was precious for the country and precious for him as he tasted freedom for the first time, and precious for the world as it signalled the end of apartheid. It’s a beautiful representation and the artists did very well,” Tambo said.
Oh, would I could describe these conceptions
When, while the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz.
Oh, would I could describe these conceptions, could impress upon paper all that is living so full and warm within me, that it might be the mirror of my soul, as my soul is the mirror of the infinite God! My friend but it is too much for my strength. I sink under the weight of the splendour of these visions!
A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine. I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing.