The world has gathered to honor and immortalize one man, and he is South Africa’s Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. He has been widely seen as a man who stood for peace and unity.
As a mark of respect, a life-size statue of the late former president Nelson Mandela was unveiled at the United Nations headquarters in New York in the US on Monday.
The unveiling was done by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“President Mandela firmly believed that the United Nations was the most valuable and effective instrument for the advancement of peace‚ development and equality that humanity had conceived‚” Ramaphosa was quoted as saying during the ceremony.
“We trust that this statue will remain a constant reminder to the international community of the dedication of Nelson Mandela to the mission of the UN and a constant affirmation of South Africa’s commitment to contribute to a better world for all.”
The statue was erected in honour of what would have been Mandela’s 100th birthday this year.
The statue is fitted with former President Nelson Mandela’s prison shoes that he wore during his days as political prisoner 46664 on Robben Island in Cape Town, where he served a jail term of 27 years. #UNGA #Mandela100 #BetterAfricaBetterWorld pic.twitter.com/2J55r5DKXr
— PresidencyZA (@PresidencyZA) September 24, 2018
According to the Presidency‚ it is the only life-size statue to have been erected at the UN.
“At 1.8 metres tall‚ the Nelson Mandela Statue is the only life size statue at the United Nations headquarters‚ signifying the role he played in unifying the world under the banner of peace and conflict resolution‚” the Presidency said.
The statue was created by the same team of sculptors who worked on the nine-metre bronze Mandela statue that towers over the gardens at the Union Buildings in Tshwane.
Months after it was erected‚ its sculptors‚ Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren‚ apologised to the government after it was found that they had added a small bronze rabbit in Mandela’s ear as a trademark of their work. The department accepted the apology. The rabbit was removed.
The Presidency said this particular statue was relevant to the UN.
“The statue is modeled after the day Nelson Mandela delivered his first speech to the United Nations Special Committee on Apartheid on June 22 1990. He urged the United Nations to maintain sanctions against South Africa until apartheid was abolished‚” it said.
Other interesting facts about the statue are that it is fitted with former president Nelson Mandela’s prison shoes that he wore during his days as a political prisoner on Robben Island.
They will also take part in what has been dubbed the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit‚ a high-level plenary meeting convened by the president of the General Assembly‚ Maria Espinosa‚ in honour of the centenary of the birth of South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
During the summit‚ Ramaphosa is expected to outline South Africa’s domestic and foreign policy goals and priorities. These include the country’s land reform programme aimed at fostering greater stability.