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Madiba ‘shadow boxing’ in the city Print E-mail
29 May 2013

mandela

Madiba ‘shadow boxing’ in the city

A “shadow boxing” sculpture – depicting former President Nelson Mandela exhibiting his boxing skills in his younger days – was unveiled at the Westgate Precinct in the Johannesburg inner city by Mayor Clr Mpho Parks Tau at the weekend.
The unveiling of the sculpture, based on a picture taken by legendary and renowned Drum magazine photographer Bob Gosani in the 1950s, was part of the City of Johannesburg’s celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of Africa Day – the day when the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union (AU), was established in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The 6m-high, painted mild steel sculpture – situated opposite Chancellor House, where Mandela and his long-time comrade and former ANC president Oliver Tambo – celebrates the vital role Madiba has played in the struggle for liberation.
“The science and tactics that Nelson Mandela admired the sport of boxing for are as relevant to our generation as they were to the generation of that time. As this generation, we are still faced with the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment,” Clr Tau said.
“We are faced by a City whose spatial form still resembles the architecture of apartheid masters. Ours is to transform this City to, as I said when I presented the State of our City a couple of weeks ago, our hearts’ desire. In that transformation, we have elected that we shall develop a City whose public space talks to liveability and talks to a City that will not ever be a City that Nelson Mandela lived in when that photograph was taken six decades ago.”
The unveiling was attended by various dignitaries and other guests, including the widow and daughters of the late Gosani, and sculpture artist Marco Cianfanelli.
Johannesburg Member of Mayoral Committee for Development Planning Clr Ros Greeff said recognising the historical importance of the buildings in that neighbourhood, as well as the people associated with it, was a special way to celebrate and commemorate this important history, which acted as a beacon of hope to all.
The “shadow boxing” sculpture is the second largest in the city and is a welcome addition to the city’s growing public art portfolio, spearheaded by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and the Department of Arts, Culture and Heritage.
The “Shadow Boxer” was “fabricated” at a cost of R470 000 and will feature lighting as a key part of the installation, allowing the sculpture to cast a shadow onto the nearby Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court building at night.
The City’s public art is informed by a Public Art Policy, which requires that up to 1% of all capital projects budget for building construction or renovation carried out by the City is spent on public art.
The sculpture was commissioned by the JDA on behalf of the City with the assistance of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and the Bailey’s African History Archive.
Clr Greeff and other councillors attending the ceremony alluded to the importance and fitting character of celebrating African heroes, especially on Africa Day.
Clr Greeff also announced that proposals were being accepted for the creation of Tambo’s sculpture in the same locale.

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