One of Middle East States, Palestine, has unveiled a six-metre statue of former South African president, Nelson Mandela. The giant Madiba statue was unveiled on Tuesday in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, a day to SA’s annual Freedom Day. Yearly, South Africa commemorates Mandela’s installation as the first democratically-elected president of the country on April 27.
Madiba Statue, First Of Its Kind Outside SA
The 6m, R6 million bronze statue of Mandela, smiling with his fist high in the air, weighs two tonnes and is the first sculpture of the anti-apartheid icon outside the country. The statue is a gift from the city of Johannesburg to the West Bank city which is home to the Palestinian administration.
We will recall that Palestine had on Tuesday by 4pm declared April 26 a national day as mammoth crowds gathered at the newly re-named Nelson Mandela Square in Ramallah to celebrate the day. Mandela is highly revered in Palestine because his apartheid struggle has repeatedly been compared to Palestine’s fight against oppression by Israel.
Speaking at the colourful event, Mayor Parks Tau, who attended the unveiling, described the statue as a symbol of hope and inspiration for Palestinians. He added that “having overcome apartheid in South Africa with the support of the international community, it is natural to extend our ubuntu principles as Africans and indeed stand in solidarity with those nations currently experiencing various forms of political and humanitarian unrest”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was also in attendance with several other dignitaries at the unveiling of the giant Madiba statue in the upscale area of Al-Tireh.
Responding also, Ramallah mayor Mousa Hadid asserted that “the unveiling is going to be celebrated as a national day because the statue of Nelson Mandela unites the people of Palestine and South Africa. He remarked that Mandela’s statue reminds the country of the personality of Nelson Mandela, who took the side of the Palestinian people even during most difficult moments of his life.
Hadid added that even when he [Mandela] was in prison, he had a strong relationship with the Palestinian revolution and boasted that with Mandela’s statue, Ramallah intends to send a “clear message to the colonizer and occupier, Israel: we are much closer to freedom than you think.”
The statue is the first step towards strengthening relations between Joburg and Ramallah. We look forward to more steps being taken to enhance this relationship further – particularly as the people of Palestine associate Mr Mandela with hope, freedom and dignity. Mr Mandela is to us a symbol of particularly forgiveness, both internally and externally,” he added.
BuzzSouthAfrica gathered that the statue is the work of South African artists Tania Lee, Christina Salvoldi and Lungisa Kala. The tender for the statue was awarded to Koketsi Growth, whose directors include Dali Tambo and Mandla Langa.
Many believe that the statue represents the shared suffering of South Africans and Palestinians because in South Africa, the Sandton City also has a complete statue of the struggle icon.