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Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu window murals at Civic Centre to get much-needed makeover

The decayed murals of the beloved Archbishop Desmond Tutu and ex-president Nelson Mandela at the Cape Town Civic Centre will be getting a munh-needed makeover. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

The decayed murals of the beloved Archbishop Desmond Tutu and ex-president Nelson Mandela at the Cape Town Civic Centre will be getting a munh-needed makeover. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jun 7, 2022

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Cape Town – Visitors to the Cape Town city centre have had to bear with the unavoidable sight of the decayed murals of beloved icons Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president Nelson Mandela on the windows of the Cape Town Civic Centre’s Tower Block.

But that’s set to change. Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis announced this morning that contractors were removing the old decals from the windows to make way for fresh versions of the much-beloved murals.

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“The restored 12-floor-high window murals will see the two figures – both of whom are recipients of Cape Town’s highest civic honour, the Freedom of the City – once again greet motorists as they make their way into the city. The project will take roughly one month, weather permitting, to complete,” Hill-Lewis said.

The City would keep the existing artwork of the murals, rather than have them redesigned, to preserve the iconic imagery and minimise the cost of the project.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis. The decayed murals of the beloved Archbishop Desmond Tutu and ex-president Nelson Mandela at the Cape Town Civic Centre will be getting a much-needed makeover. Picture: City of Cape Town/Supplied

Dreamfuel Media, which undertook the conceptual design of the images, specified that the clothing of the subjects in the artwork should contain imagery of special significance to Cape Town and South Africa.

“The image of Madiba was based on a photograph by Matthew Willman and the image of Archbishop Tutu draws on a photograph by Andrew Zuckerman,” Hill-Lewis said.

Madiba’s shirt contained images that represented some of the city’s most iconic features – including the Bo Kaap, penguins at Boulders Beach, Table Mountain, a minstrel at the Kaapse Klopse, and the King Protea.

Archbishop Tutu’s shirt contained imagery that invoked the anti-apartheid Struggle as well as the core political values of non-racialism, freedom, togetherness, and peace.

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Madiba’s shirt contained images that represented some of the city’s most iconic features – including the Bo Kaap, penguins at Boulders Beach, Table Mountain, a minstrel at the Kaapse Klopse, and the King Protea. Picture: City of Cape Town/Supplied
Archbishop Tutu’s shirt contained imagery that invoked the anti-apartheid struggle as well as the core political values of non-racialism, freedom, togetherness and peace. Picture: City of Cape Town/Supplied

“The concept designers selected Cape Flats-born artist Linsey Levendall to illustrate the concept. His resultant artwork invokes a sense of hope and optimism about our country’s future, healing from the wounds of the past, and celebrating the beauty of its diverse people and environment,” Hill-Lewis said.

The restoration of the Civic Centre’s decals was just one element of an ongoing process of renewal in the city.

“These projects – which include the restoration of the Strandfontein Pavilion in Mitchells Plain and the reconstruction of the Muizenberg beach huts – will see public buildings and space in Cape Town become city treasures in which every resident can feel a sense of hope and pride,” Hill-Lewis said.

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