Mandela statue’s hidden rabbit catches Government on the HopA new, nine-metre sculpture of Nelson Mandela, unveiled in Pretoria a day after his funeral, has a sculpted rabbit tucked inside one of the bronze ears.
The Department of Arts and Culture said it did not know the two sculptors, Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren, had added a rabbit.
The newspaper Beeld quoted the artists as saying they added the rabbit as a trademark after officials would not allow them to engrave their signatures on the statue’s trousers. They also said the rabbit represented the pressure of finishing the sculpture on time because haas, the word for ‘hare’ in Afrikaans, also means ‘haste.’
Mogomotsi Mogodiri, a spokesman for the department, said in a statement that there are discussions on “how best to retain the integrity of the sculpture without causing any damage or disfigurement.”
Paul Mashatile, the arts and culture minister, said the sculptors had apologised for any offence to those who felt the rabbit was disrespectful toward the legacy of Mandela.
Dali Tambo, son of anti-apartheid figure Oliver Tambo, said he was furious when he heard about the rabbit, and said it must go.
“It’s belittling, in my opinion, if you take it in a jocular way and start adding rabbits in the ear.”
He said it would be like depicting Barack Obama with a mouse in his nose.
Tambo said the signatures of the artists, who belong to South Africa’s white Afrikaner minority, could be added on the statue in a discreet place, perhaps on Mandela’s heel.
– by Zapiro.
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