Mandela Buried in Qunu, Giant Statue to Be Unveiled in Pretoria
South African President Jacob Zuma will unveil a 9-m-high bronze statue of late Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria Monday.
The giant bronze-coated statue of the former and first black South Africa president, referred to affectionately as Madiba, arrived in Pretoria from Cape Town on Friday.
"This is the largest Mandela statue in the world and we believe it is the best," said Sarah Haines of Koketso Growth, which managed the project.
The South African Department of Arts and Culture also believed it to be the world's biggest statue of Madiba. The statue, created by South African artists Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren, was cast at four foundries, two of them in Cape Town, where it was initially assembled.
"The unveiling of the statue on December 16 is intended as acknowledgement of the contribution of the first president of a democratic South Africa, a symbol of national reconciliation and unity. Hopefully, it will become a site of pilgrimage for domestic and international visitors," the Arts and Culture Department said in a statement.
Monday, which is the Day of Reconciliation, also marks the commemoration of the centenary of the Union Buildings.
Until the end of apartheid in 1994, tens of thousands of Afrikaners traditionally gathered on December 16 at Voortrekker Monument, located just south of Pretoria to honor ancestors and glorify the racist regime. This massive granite structure is prominently located on a hilltop, and was raised to commemorate the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854.
In the opposing camp, December 16th is the day marking the founding of the military wing of ANC (African National Congress ), which staged its first attack on December 16, 1961.
After the end of apartheid, when Nelson Mandela became president, South Africa reviewed its official holiday and December 16 survived, but was renamed Day of Reconciliation
Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, last Thursday, at the age of 95.
An official memorial service was held at FNB stadium, in Soweto, on Tuesday.
His body has been lying in state at the Union Buildings since Wednesday. He was just buried at Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Sunday.
Nelson Mandela's body was laid to rest in a family plot, after political and religious leaders paid tribute to him at a state funeral service.
His widow, Graca Machel, and President Zuma were present for the private, traditional Xhosa ceremony Mandela's hometown.
The final day of South Africa's 10-day commemoration for its late leader began with his coffin taken on a gun carriage from Mandela's house to the giant marquee.
Mandela's casket, draped in national colors, was carried by the military, accompanied by family and friends, from a specially-erected marquee up a hill to the graveside.
South Africa's air force staged a fly-past as the coffin was lowered into the grave.