Cape Town - Palestine has its own Nelson Mandela Square, complete with a statue of him, just like the one in Sandton City.

At 4pm on Tuesday, a 6m, R6 million bronze statue, a gift from the City of Johannesburg, was unveiled at the newly renamed Nelson Mandela Square in the Al-Tireh neighbourhood in Ramallah. Mayor Parks Tau attended the unveiling, describing it as a symbol of hope and inspiration for Palestinians.

A national day has been declared to honour the event. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also expected to attend.

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.

Ramallah mayor Mousa Hadid said: “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.

“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,” Hadid said.

Tau said: “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.”

Cape Times