Long walk to launch of biggest Madiba statue trips on deadline

2012-01-07 16:18

South Africa has to wait a little longer before the biggest statue of former president Nelson Mandela is erected in Mangaung, the centre of the centenary celebrations for the ANC.

Initially scheduled to coincide with today’s celebrations, the statue was not yet finished and its sculptor says it will be another few weeks before it arrives in Free State.

Until recently the ANC was tightlipped about the statue – sponsored to a rumoured value of R3 million by Bloemfontein businessman Freddy Kenny – except for promising that it would be bigger and better than any other Mandela statue.

Although he did not have many details about the statue, Jackson Mthembu said some projects that were planned for the centenary celebrations would not necessarily happen during the main celebrations.

Mthembu said this included the liberation route that was announced by Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile last year.

Celebrations and events are planned for the whole year so, Mthembu says, some of the projects that were not ready in time would be postponed to later dates.

Kenny, who could not reveal the cost, said his family decided two years ago to “say thank you to Madiba” by sponsoring the statue. He said the R3 million mentioned was less than the cost of the statue and its transport from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein. “This is for the people of the Free State and the next generation.”

Mangaung Metro mayor Thabo Manyoni said the council had different sites where the statue could be erected.

“We are looking at the entrance to the city from the airport or in Waaihoek, near the Wesleyan Methodist Church, where the ANC was formed,” he said.

One of the other suggested sites for the statue was the newly built park right in front of Maphikela House in Batho location, which belonged to one of the founder members of the ANC, Thomas Maphikela.

Kobus Hattingh, who also sculpted the Mandela statue in Sandton, said the bronze statue for Mangaung should be ready in two weeks. He said he started early last year and is now busy with the finishing touches. “The one in Sandton is six metres and this one is half-a-metre taller.”

Mthembu said the liberation heritage route, honouring men and women who had fought against apartheid, still needed to be discussed, especially with other countries where the ANC had a presence during the struggle.

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