Hand-made throne for Madiba

LIMPOPO artist Calvin Lekgoara, 35, yesterday handed over the gift of a specially made chair to the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg to be passed on to South Africa's founding president Nelson Mandela.

Lekgoara, of GaRapitsi village in Moletjie in north-eastern Polokwane, Limpopo, refers to the chair as a "throne".

The special gift was accepted on Mandela's behalf by his wife Graça Machel. She described the chair as "a unique gift".

It is hard to imagine someone like this humble villager, who considers himself something of an adventurer, conjuring up something so special for the legendary Mandela.

At the official handing over of the "throne" to the foundation, Lekgoara said he was "justifiably on cloud nine. It was a dream come true. I am honoured and humbled that the foundation has accepted the gift and will make sure the old man gets it".

Lekgoara said he had always thought of doing something for "someone I grew up admiring".

"What really makes him stand head and shoulders above the rest of us is his personality, his reconciliatory character and signature smile," Lekgoara said.

"Making this special gift for Madiba was not easy. It took a lot of thinking.

"I always kept in mind the fact that I was doing this throne for a special person who is respected all over the world," he said.

The throne is made of cattle horns, wood, steel and is covered with cattle skin and sisal ropes.

The throne is also engraved with a special message: "You are an incorruptible seed of freedom."

Lekgoara walked away with the best arts and culture honour during the 2010 Aganang Municipal Achievers Awards recently.

"We owe our freedom and democracy to people like Mandela. People like me see the need to return the favour by giving him special gifts," he said.

The throne will be given pride of place with others at the foundation.

"It will be given the respect and honour it rightly deserves," spokesperson for the NMF, Sello Hatang, said.

"This is one wonderful masterpiece and I am convinced the old man will cherish it for a long time."