About Mandela's Statue at the Union Buildings

A nine-metre high bronze statue of Nelson Mandela has stood at the foot of the Union Buildings in Pretoria since it was unveiled by Jacob Zuma a day after Mandela's funeral in Qunu, in December 2013.

Did you know? The statue is of Madiba with his arms outstretched to symbolise his embrace of the whole nation. One of his legs is in front of the other to indicate a nation on the move. From fingertip to fingertip the statue is 8 metres wide.

It is the tallest bronze sculpture of Mandela in existence. The tallest Mandela memorial is Marco Cianfanelli's steel construction at the capture site near Howick.

The statue stands on the spot where Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa's first democratically elected president in 1994, and replaces the statue of James Barry Hertzog, a former prime minister now moved to new space at the Union Buildings.

At the same time as the statue was unveiled, the Union Buildings celebrated its centenary, and was declared a national heritage site. Mandela's body lay in state at the Union Buildings for three days the week before the unveiling of the statue that cost R8-million.

The sculptors, André Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren, managed to pull off the project in just four months, after the project was given the final nod in mid-July 2013.

However, not without some controversy. Just over a month after the statue's unveiling, a tiny bronze rabbit was discovered inside Mandela's ear. The artists, under an extremely tight deadline, felt the need to leave some kind of trademark, as a substitute for their signatures (it is the norm for artists to put their signature on bronze sculptures).

The government insisted upon its removal, despite some active #savetherabbit campaigning on Twitter, and a request by animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to adopt the rabbit.

But, 'the rabbit would have to go'; various official bodies were unamused. Not before the sculptors apologised and were pardoned on the grounds that 'their intentions were honourable'.

Nobody appears to know just where Rolihlah Rabbit is now...

Need to Know

WhereMandela's Statue at the Union Buildings, Arcadia, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours

OvernightStay in Arcadia Accommodation, Gauteng


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Nelson Mandela

Fascinated with Past President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela? Nelson Mandela is one of the world's most remarkable leaders. Find out more about his past and his impact on South Africa's present and future, and follow in his footsteps with our curated Mandela Route of South Africa.

A Tribute to Nelson Mandela

The Mandela Route

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