Statue of Shaka dethroned for facelift

2010-06-03 00:00

THE statue of King Shaka at the new airport named after him was removed last night after the Zulu Royal Household raised concerns that it is not a true depiction of the Zulu warrior king.

The R3 million sculpture, a work by Durban sculptor Andries Botha, will be stored for the next month until a task team appointed by the Premier’s Office decides how the sculpture will be modified.

At a special briefing, Premier Zweli Mkhize denied reports that King Goodwill Zwelithini and the Royal Household had said the statue makes Shaka look more like a herdboy than a warrior.

“These reports are not true. He did not say it looked like a herdboy. We have consulted with them and they are happy with the statue being modified,” he said.

The task team, made up of researchers and historians, will review the statue’s repositioning at the airport and certain of its features.

Mkhize said there has been a lot of debate about the statue. Among the issues raised is that some of the statue’s features are not easily recognisable.

He also suggested that the statue needs more elevation.

“There is a lot of debate around the repositioning and reshaping of the statue. The attire on the statue is also being debated. The task team will look at ways to best represent King Shaka,” he said.

Mkhize said it is difficult to capture Shaka as there are no pictures for the artist to work with.

“We don’t have any pictures like we have of John Dube and King Dinizulu. We have asked the task team to bring their ideas together to capture the true essence of Shaka,” he said.

He said the task team will give the Royal Household a broader insight and this will help in making changes to the statue.

Mkhize said he acted quickly because of intense public interest.

“Everyone has an opinion about the statue and it has sparked a huge debate. It’s amazing how people are digging up history books and remembering a man who lived almost 200 years ago.”

Mkhize also raised the question of the spear and shield that Shaka is often portrayed as holding.

“We need to look at the aspect too. Sometimes he carried a spear and sometimes he didn’t,” he said.

“The team has been given four weeks to discuss the statue, and then work will begin on it. The statue will be taken and improved,” he added.

Mkhize praised Botha and said that the statue’s repositioning and redesign is not a reflection on the scuptor.

“The sculptor is a remarkable and talented man. His flair for details is great.

“We are happy with his work and will work closely with him during this four-week process,” Mkhize added.

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