News / South Africa

Daniel Friedman
2 minute read
26 Sep 2018
9:59 am

UN statue of Mandela ridiculed for looking like ‘Robert de Niro’

Daniel Friedman

South Africans are not impressed with the new statue of the former president at the United Nations, particularly with what appears to be his straight, gelled-back hair.

President Cyril Ramaphosa unveils the alleged statue of Nelson Mandela at the UN headquarters in New York. Picture: Twitter.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday unveiled a life-size statue of Mandela at the UN General Assembly, New York.

Ramaphosa said at the unveiling: “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 United Nations and a constant affirmation of South Africa’s commitment to contribute to a better world for all.”

South Africans on social media, however, are largely unimpressed with the statue, which they say does not look a whole lot like its subject.

READ MORE: Ramaphosa lands in New York for UN General Assembly

The main complaint appeared to be the hair, with some saying it was too straight and made the iconic former SA president look white.

These views have not come from random Twitter users but from sources such as columnist Pinky Khoabane, Deputy Public Protector Kevin Sifiso Malunga, and 702 host Gugulethu Mhlungu.

There are many theories as to who the statue does look like. Columnist Tom Eaton said he could see both Robert de Niro and Samuel L Jackson, and one user said Madiba looks like an “Asian man”.

However, there does seem to be consensus on who it doesn’t look a whole lot like – Nelson Mandela.

President Cyril Ramaphosa arrived in New York in the United States on Sunday afternoon to attend the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA73) from September 25 to 27.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said in a statement that the theme for this year’s session was “Making the United Nations relevant to all people: global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable, and sustainable societies”.

The UN general debate was preceded by the unveiling of the statue and the historic Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, a high-level plenary meeting convened by the President of the General Assembly Maria Espinosa in honour of the anniversary of the birth of South Africa’s first democratically elected president.

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