Palestine gets its own Nelson Mandela Square

image1Nelson Mandela's statue unveiled in Palestine

Joburg Mayor Parks Tau unveiled a statue of Nelson Mandela donated by the city to the people of Palestine as a symbol of solidarity, in Ramallah. The statue was commissioned by the JDA.

image2Joburg Mayor Parks Tau unveiled a statue of Nelson Mandela donated by the city to the people of Palestine as a symbol of solidarity, in Ramallah.A bronze statue of Nelson Mandela weighing two metric tons now rises six metres into the air in the Palestine economic capital, Ramallah City.

Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau was joined by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas‚ mayor of Ramallah‚ Mousa Hadid‚ and officials of the South African embassy at the unveiling on Tuesday, 26 April. The R6-million statue is the first of its kind outside South Africa and depicts the global icon with his right arm raised, his hand clenched in a fist.

The statue was created by South African artists Christina Salvodi, Lungisa Khala and Tanya Lee, with the commissioning and overseeing of the project undertaken by the JDA.

Located in an area of Ramallah currently being developed and already named Mandela Square, the statue took seven months to produce and is a donation from Johannesburg to Ramallah as a symbol of solidarity with the people of Palestine amid their ongoing struggles.

Speaking to SABC News at the unveiling, Tau said the spirit of Mandela would continue to spur the Palestinians towards their total emancipation. "We're very excited we were finally able to unveil the statue on the eve of South Africa celebrating 22 years of freedom," said Tau.

"This statue is a symbol of solidarity from the people of Johannesburg and the people of South Africa to the people of Palestine. It is about our commitment towards the achievement of lasting peace in the Middle East."

The unveiling followed a visit to Ramallah by South African Local Government Association officials in November 2014 to attend the International Conference of Local Authorities in Solidarity with the People of Palestine. The visit culminated in the signing of a memorandum of understanding between City of Johannesburg and Ramallah to promote city-to-city ties.

A multi-year action plan was also developed to be implemented in support of the signed agreement. The donation of the Nelson Mandela Monumental Statue to Ramallah and the people of Palestine was one of the elements agreed to in the plan.

Watch Mayor Parks Tau speak to SABC News: