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UN INSIDER

Mandela Statue Casts Long Shadow Over Unfree Palestine

RAMALLAH, Palestine (IDN | GIN) – Now that the media circus has moved on, a bronze statue of Nelson Mandela is a curious icon standing impressively tall in the well-to-do city of Ramallah, the economic capital of Palestine.

Weighing two metric tons and rising almost 6 metres towards the sky, the bronze likeness of Mandela stands straight, with his right arm raised and hand in a fist. Created by South African artists Christina Salvodi, Lungisa Khala and Tanya Lee‚ the project was funded by the City of Johannesburg.

The statue took seven months to produce and has been placed on high land for "all the people of Palestine to see," according to Sowetan Live.

Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were among the dignitaries at the unveiling in the now-renamed Mandela Square.

Madiba was an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause and a champion for Middle East peace. His comment: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” has been printed on huge posters that are plastered on nearby walls.

Nineteen years ago, Mandela spoke out on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

“The temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine to a state of their own,” he said. “Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others face.

“Yet we would be less than human if we did so.”

Speaking at the recent unveiling, Ramallah mayor Musa Hadid said: “This statue reminds us of the personality of Nelson Mandela, who took the side of the Palestinian people even during most difficult moments of his life, when he was in prison. He had a strong relationship with the Palestinian revolution.”

“With Mandela’s statue, Ramallah intends to send a “clear message to the coloniser and occupier, Israel: we are much closer to freedom than you think,” he said.

“We see the statue as a symbol of friendship‚” said Johannesburg's mayor Tau, “as a symbol of our solidarity but also hopefully as an inspiration to the people of Palestine that you indeed would be able to achieve your freedom.” [IDN | INPS – 31 May 2016]

Photo: Mandela Statue

IDN is flagship of the International Press Syndicate.