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By Cheryl Kahla

Content Strategist


‘Seeds of greatness’: Take a look at the two Mandela statues unveiled by Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa presided over the unveiling of two statues commemorating Nelson Mandela Day.


President Cyril Ramaphosa Tuesday unveiled two new statues to commemorate International Mandela Day, celebrated annually on 18 July.

International Nelson Mandela Day was proclaimed by the United Nations in 2009, serving as an opportunity to advance the former president’s values and remember his legacy.

Two more Nelson Mandela statues

Ramaphosa delivered a keynote address at a ceremony before the first statue was unveiled at the Bhunga Building in Mthatha.

Nelson Mandela day statues unveiled by Ramaphosa on 18 July 2023
Photo: GCIS

Following this, Ramaphosa addressed attendees before presiding over a second unveiling at the Youth and Heritage Centre in Qunu, Eastern Cape.

Nelson Mandela day statues unveiled by Ramaphosa on 18 July 2023
Photo: GCIS

Ramaphosa said these monuments act as enduring tributes to Madiba’s 67-year-long commitment to combating apartheid and racism.

Reflecting on Mandela’s legacy

During his speech, Ramaphosa paid heartfelt homage to Mandela and highlighted the international recognition his legacy received since the UN declaration 14 years ago.

Ramaphosa said Mandela was revered statesman, unifier, and peacemaker.

He also reminded those in attendance of Madiba’s contribution to freeing South Africa.

“Madiba’s was no humble contribution. He led our nation to freedom, and even today, many years since his passing, his legacy lives on”, Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa noted the complexities that form our identities and experiences, explaining how Mandela, too, was shaped by influences.

“As human beings we are the sum of many parts, and Madiba was no different.

“Our upbringing, our culture, and many other factors shape our lived experiences”, he said.

Traditional values

Ramaphosa also drew particular attention to the traditional Xhosa-Tembu values that informed Mandela’s consciousness, symbolised by the Qunu statue’s cultural attire.

“The statue here in Qunu depicts him in the attire of his Xhosa-Tembu culture, reminding us of the traditional values he lived by and that shaped his consciousness”.

By commemorating Mandela in his final resting place, Ramaphosa for hopeful for youth to find inspiration and the understanding that the seeds of greatness exist within us all.

“It is our hope that this homage to Madiba in his final resting place will serve as an inspiration especially to the young people in the community,” Ramaphosa added.

Greatness in us all

Ramaphosa said a person’s humble beginning does not hinder the pursuit of greatness:

“[The statues will] remind you that the seeds of greatness lie dormant within each one of us, and that it is up to us to make them germinate and bloom”.

Nelson Mandela day statues unveiled by Ramaphosa on 18 July 2023
Photo: GCIS

He emphasised that humble beginnings should not hinder the pursuit of greatness.

Instead, it should encourage us to change the world in our own way.

“Being born in a rural area, or having humble beginnings, is no obstacle to achieving greatness, and to fulfilling your destiny”.

Ramaphosa concluded: “It is to remind us of all our duty to do what we can to make the world a better place.”

READ: How are we supposed to celebrate Mandela Day without water?

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