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“It should, true to Madiba’s values, forever be a symbol of the country’s reconciliation and tolerance as a nation,” said Zuma in Bloemfontein in the Free State.
“We know Tata Mandela to be a humble person, a principled leader whose life of selfless dedication to the cause of equality, freedom and dignity for all continues to be a source of inspiration to all South Africans and indeed to all of humanity.” Colourful balloons filled the air as Zuma removed a black sheet covering the 6.5m bronze statue of Mandela on Naval Hill.
The unveiling came ahead of schedule as rain affected the official programme.
Guests were accommodated in a big white tent behind the statue.
Mandela’s statue looks in the direction of Waaihoek, where the ANC was established 100 years ago.
Zuma said with the statue overlooking Mangaung, Mandela was once again honoured for his “towering vision and stature”, his commitment, leadership and dedication to the struggle against apartheid.
He said the statue would remind South African the path it’s citizens had travelled in the struggle to be free.
“It reminds us of our journey from the birth of the African National Congress here in Mangaung in 1912, to the democratic elections in 1994, and now, this year, the centenary of the ANC, the oldest liberation movement in Africa.” The ANC president said the statue should also remind South Africa that its freedom should be handled with care by all, not just the government.
Zuma said people should keep on talking about Mandela and tell the real story of Madiba.
“If you honour him, you honour us. May the statue inspire all.”