Huge Mandela statue for PE?

2001-05-17 23:22

Port Elizabeth - If a Port Elizabeth businessman has his way, the port city could soon have its own version of the American Statue of Liberty in its harbour - not a female version carrying a torch in her outstretched hand, but a huge statue of former president Nelson Mandela.

Kenny McDonald's dream of four years might soon become reality and be erected in the harbour entrance.

Up to now his Freedom Statue has not been received with much enthusiasm. McDonald brought his idea to the attention of Siyathetha advertising company executive director Lindiwe Manellie. And now the idea has caught on with several Port Elizabeth businesspeople and political leaders.

Even Mike Kwenaite, chairperson of the mayoral task team for economic development and tourism, is fired up with the idea.

'Like bringing Table Mountain to Port Elizabeth'

"It's like bringing Table Mountain to Port Elizabeth," said Mandla Madwara, a former Port Elizabeth city council chairperson.

McDonald's proposal involves erecting a 60-metre-high statue of Mandela near the water's edge.

"The sculpture would point towards the sea, welcoming visitors and residents alike," McDonald said. "It is sure to establish the city as the Nelson Mandela metropolis and gateway to Africa," he added.

Kevin Wakeford, former chief executive officer of the business, industrial and trade chamber for the Port Elizabeth region, collaborated with McDonald on the idea.

Manellie maintains the idea gained momentum when the Port Elizabeth harbour was chosen as the location for the statue. A professional team has been assembled to start preparing for its erection.

Symbol of resurrection of city's economy

The project is a symbol of the resurrection of Nelson Mandela metropolis's economy said Madwara.

Financial support for the project, however, still seems to pose a stumbling-block. Manellie said funds would be required to get the project off the ground. She was confident once that was achieved, the money would start rolling in.

Manellie maintains American citizens paid for the base on which the Statue of Liberty rests.

She believes the same support could be mustered here.