Businessman fulfils dream with Mandela statue

2012-12-14 00:00

ANOTHER honour was bestowed on former president Nelson Mandela when a statue was unveiled in Bloemfontein yesterday.

The seven-metre tall statue is perched on the Naval Hill and overlooks the City of Mangaung.

President Jacob Zuma unveiled the statue just three days before the ANC’s elective congress starts, at the town where the ANC was formed in 1912, after several postponements.

Businessman Freddie Kenney sponsored the statue to say thank you to Mandela and those who were in the liberation struggle.

Speaking at the event, Zuma said he was honoured to unveil the statue in honour of Mandela. “It is so befitting that we unveil this statue just days before the 53rd national conference of the organisation he loves so dearly,” he said.

Zuma noted that the statue was being unveiled when Madiba was recuperating at a hospital in Pretoria. “We assured him of the love and support of all South Africans during his hospitalisation,” he said.

The president said the statue was paying tribute to the stalwart and drew lessons from his life and conduct.

“We know Tata as a humble person, a principled leader whose life and dedication continues to be a source of inspiration to South Africans and humanity.”

He added that the statue reminded the country of the path it went through to attain freedom. “It also reminds us of the birth of the ANC in Mangaung in 1912, the democratic elections and now the centenary of the ANC.”

Zuma thanked Kenney for his generous donation to the people of Mangaung, Free State and the ANC.

Kenney said it was common for people not to know how to say thank you, which was why he came up with the idea of the statue.

“I had this dream to put up this statue in my time,” he said.

Premier Ace Magashule sang praises to Mandela, saying he was a great leader who had been part of the ANC.

“He emerged out of the struggle led by the ANC. We were not to have Nelson Mandela, if there was no ANC. We were not to have President Jacob Zuma, if there was no ANC.”

Magashule said Zuma had also emerged out of the struggle.

“You have not been made by the media. We see in you a product of the struggle. In you we see hope,” he said, adding that Zuma was an intellectual.

• mayibongwe.maqhina@witness.co.za

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