Exarro Resources and the Rotary District 9400 on Friday unveiled a 1-m-tall replica of the famous Nelson Mandela Statue, that is located in Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton, Johannesburg, to allow the visually impaired to touch and “see” the statue in their own way.
The statue is located close to the original and also has a braille plaque for the visually impaired to read.
Liberty Two Degrees, which owns Nelson Mandela Square, is fully supportive of this project, as is the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the South African National Council for the Blind.
It was defined and modelled by artist and sculptor Kobus Hattingh, who was also responsible for the original statue.
Hattingh, who was present at the event, indicated that he was honoured to have designed both statues. He noted that the biggest challenge for the first was getting it to reflect the exact image of Mandela, which he was happy to have achieved, in both statues.
The idea for the replica statue came about after Rotary Club of Kyalami project leader David Grant travelled to Lisbon, Portugal, in June 2013, and saw a replica statue for the visually impaired next to an original.
Speaking at the unveiling, he indicated that the original statue, as one of the most photographed statues in the country, enables Mandela’s ethos of peace and reconciliation to be transmitted globally, which will be further enhanced by the replica, he noted.
Exarro CEO Mxolisi Mgojo declared the unveiling of the statue as a legacy moment, as it would remain for people long after its implementers had gone.
He indicated that Exarro, as a part of South Africa, had to contribute to the country’s current political, social and economic transition. Part of this entails aiming for inclusivity of all people, which the statue will enable, through creating accessibility for the visually impaired.
This forms part of the company’s new mission of empowering better lives in Africa and beyond, he said.
The South African National Council for the Blind principal Modiri Matshwane emphasised the need to make the world more accessible for those with disabilities – which this project does – and not for them to have to adapt to the world.