There has been a backlash on media platforms to the Mandela statue, which was unveiled at the UN in New York on Monday, with some saying it does not resemble the late global icon.     Yandisa Monakali/Dirco News Service
There has been a backlash on media platforms to the Mandela statue, which was unveiled at the UN in New York on Monday, with some saying it does not resemble the late global icon. Yandisa Monakali/Dirco News Service

‘Statue at UN is not our Nelson Mandela’

By Khaya Koko Time of article published Sep 26, 2018

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CRITICISM of artwork depicting Nelson Mandela is nothing new because the public will always have its say about impressions not being true reflections of the former president’s likeness.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said this yesterday when reacting to the backlash on media platforms to the Mandela statue unveiled at the UN in New York on Monday.

The contentious issue regarding the statue has been Mandela’s hair, with many observers noting that it was straight and not the traditional inward curl associated with the black African form.

Luzuko Koti, spokesperson for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said the organisation had always noticed that impressions of Mandela were never to people’s satisfaction, regardless where in the world the late statesman’s statue had been unveiled.

“We will note people’s comments (regarding the statue); we will not dismiss them,” he said.

However, Koti added that the foundation did not guide, inform or influence the creation of the statue in any way as this was a UN project in conjunction with the Department of Arts and Culture.

“The foundation was involved at the (statue’s) unveiling during the UN Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, which we were involved in,” Koti said.

Arts and Culture spokesperson Asanda Magaqa said she would give a comprehensive response today after consulting other stakeholders. Brand South Africa said the statue’s sculptors are locals, the same ones used during the creation of the Mandela sculpture which towers over the Union Buildings lawns in the city.

Andre Otto, one of the statue’s sculptors, said the posture of the arms raised was something suggested by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation. Otto was speaking on a video published by the department.

What Twitter said

- “Looking at this Mandela statue, it’s no wonder Mama Tshepo Ramaphosa kept looking at it in disbelief. To those who asked about the statue of Shaka and his nose, check out Tata’s hair here.” - Pinky Khoabane

- “The #Mandelastatue unveiled in New York has straight hair. It only partially looks like him. Public procurement continues to embarrass the state even on international platforms. Oh well.” - Deputy Public Protector Kevin Sfiso Malunga

- “You probably need to write Mandela on the statue, because that dude does not look like Mandela bro.” - Caswell Phasha.

- “SA really convinced the UN that the statue we gifted them is of Mandela and not Robert de Niro.” - Gugulethu Mhlungu

- “Who is this weird-looking, Caucasian-haired dude? Because it sure (isn’t) our beautiful #Madiba. Sies!” Olga Briana posted on Twitter.

- “Well done to the staff of the Department of Arts and Culture for development of the Mandela statue at the UN.” - Alicia Monis

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