Monday, 8 September 2008

Nelson Mandela's grand new statue: majestic and fitting

If you wince every time you look at the colossal, ugly, disproportionate statue of Nelson Mandela that looms over Nelson Mandela Square, [left] you will be heartened to take a look at Jean Doyle's splendid new statue, which was recently unveiled at the entrance to the Drakenstein Prison [formerly Victor Verster Prison], near Paarl.

The bronze statue, unveiled last month, was comissioned by the Sexwale Family Foundation to commemorate Mandela's historic release from Victor Verster on 11 February 1990.

I'd read about the new statue in the papers, but the only photo I saw of the sulpture - actually, a photo of the maquette - gave no sense of its scale and quiet grandeur, nor of its dramatic mountain surroundings.

These pictures [left and below] were taken on a bitterly cold and snowy day last week, while I was visiting my family in Franschhoek. The children in our party fell silent as they approached the statue - and this lot never stop chattering - and listened with big, solemn eyes as my sister read the inscriptions around the base of the statue. I had goosebumps too - and it wasn't the snowy weather.

When we all bundled back into the car, with blue noses and frosty eyelashes, I was bursting with pride to tell my daughter that her father and I watched Nelson Mandela delivering his famous release speech on the Grand Parade in Cape Town, all those years ago.

The statue delivers. It's everything a statue should be: grand, imposing, uplifting and powerful. I'm sorry that this statue isn't in the middle of Johannesburg, or Cape Town, where many more people would be able to see it. Not that it's going to fade into obscurity: I am told that thousands of foreign tourists to the nearby town of Franschhoek make pilgrimages to the prison to see the spot where Nelson Mandela began his walk to freedom. Now they have something to photograph.

How do you think the new statue compares with the one in Nelson Mandela Square? A no-brainer, right?

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Anatswanashe said...

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