The 9-metre, bronze statue was unveiled by President Jacob Zuma at the Union Buildings a short while ago. This forms part of commemorating Reconciliation Day on 16 December.
Madiba’s eldest grandson Mandla Mandela was among the dignitaries there to witness the occasion.
Madiba stands tall on the Southern Lawns, where the statue of former Prime Minister Barry Hertzog was mounted, just half way up the Delville Wood War Memorial which is a tribute to South African troops who died during the First World War as well as a plaque in memory of those who died during the Korean War.
The statue of Hertzog has been moved to the eastern part of the Delville Wood War Memorial.
Zuma said it was significant that Madiba’s statue was unlike others in that usually he had his fist raised, ymbolizing the African National Congress’s slogan of “Amandla nga Wethu”.
This statue has Madiba’s arms outstretched, ymbolizing a democratic South Africa united as a rainbow nation.
“He is embracing the country. Both hands are embracing the entire nation,” said Zuma.
The President said Madiba’s footwork was the same – showing that he was on the move, as is the country.
Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, who lead proceedings, said the statue will be a monument dedicated to the life of Madiba and his contribution to freedom and reconciliation in South Africa.
Poet, artist and sculptor, Proffesor Pitika Ntuli, said the statue was symbolic. “This statue has been constructed in a way that it has open arms that is welcoming the world to embrace a united nation, a nation in the process of reconciling with its painful past.”
The Union Buildings, which is marking its centenary, was also the place where Madiba was inaugurated as the country’s first democratically-elected President in 1994.
Mandela died on 5 December at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, at the age of 95. He was laid to rest at the Mandela family farm in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday. – SAnews.gov.za