Towering metal sculpture dedicated to Madiba’s commitment to education

2013-12-18 16:04

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Nelson Mandela has been remembered with a four-storey high sculpture in the Eastern Cape.

The Tree of Wisdom has been unveiled at the soon-to-be completed Mandela School of Science and Technology in Mvezo in honour of his commitment to education.

Mandela was born in Mvezo and spent part of his childhood in nearby Qunu.

The 11m-tall sculpture forms a striking landmark at the Eastern Cape’s newest rural school, which opens next month.

It was created by internationally recognised installation artist Daniel Popper.

“Like Mandela’s legacy, this sculpture will last forever,” said the young sculptor.

His huge, stylised tree rises from a base containing Mandela quotes and is surrounded by benches where people can sit and contemplate the former statesman’s legacy.

The Mandela School of Science and Technology was built at a cost of R100 million through a partnership between global engineering firm Siemens with the department of basic education and the Mvezo Development Trust.

It is the first high school in the area and follows a commitment made by Siemens to Mandela in 2010.

“Madiba famously said that education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world,” said Siemens executive director Rita Nkuhlu.

Popper has built sculptures and models for international festivals and art events such as Burning Man and Boom.

Built on a monumental scale from galvanised steel with a granite base surrounded by a durable wooden deck, Tree of Wisdom weighs about four tons.

It was built at the Rootform Art Factory in Salt River, Cape Town. After the steel components were bent and welded into shape, the whole sculpture was cut into pieces and bolted together.

It was then disassembled and transported 1 290km by truck to Mvezo.

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