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Monument to Mandela mounted in Howick

Former President Nelson Mandela's sculpture was unveiled in Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands on Saturday.

"The front of the sculpture is a portrait of Mandela, it has vertical bars which represent his imprisonment," designer Marco Cianfanelli said.

He came up with the concept in 2005 working with architect Jeremy Rose of Mashabane Rose Associates.

Also working on the project was director of the Apartheid Museum Christopher Till.

Cianfanelli said: "When you walk through the structure it's radiates like a burst of light, which symbolises the political uprising of many people and solidarity."

He said the sculpture showed the irony of the apartheid government trying to stop the struggle.

"But it had the opposite effect as it helped to grow and galvanise the movement."

The sculpture comprises of 50 steel columns which are charcoal in colour.

Rose designed the path leading towards the sculpture where at a distance of 35m, a portrait of Mandela looking west comes into focus.

On the sides of the pathway were trees with the words negotiator, courageous, statesman, leader, prisoner, comrade and character.

"We wanted a sculpture that was not conventional," he said.

Cianfanelli said working on the sculpture was a privilege and humbling experience.

President Jacob Zuma said the site would promote tourism, and create jobs.

"We must encourage generations to visit the site because those who do will be inspired.

"Children should be encouraged to visit all heritage sites so they can understand the country's history," Zuma said.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said he loved the sculpture.

He thanked Zuma for giving Mandela recognition.

"This is encouraging and it shows the South Africa is moving forward," Mthembu said.

Earlier Zuma arrived to singing and ululating at the unveiling of the monument.

"This is Zuma my president," people sang.

Attending the ceremony was premier Zweli Mkhize, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube, Economic Development and Tourism MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, speaker of the provincial legislature Peggy Nkonyeni, chairman of the Apartheid Museum John Kani and Mandela's grandson Zwelivelile.

The multi-million rand monument would be mounted where Mandela was arrested before he was incarcerated for 27 years on Robben Island.

On August 5, 1962 Mandela was arrested by apartheid security forces on the R103, just 3km outside Howick.

The unveiling marks 50 years since Mandela was arrested and charged for treason in the Rivonia Trial at the end of which Mandela and several others were sentenced to life imprisonment. – Sapa.

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