Row over rabbit in Nelson Mandela's ear

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's government has ordered sculptors to remove a bronze rabbit they hid in the ear of a Nelson Mandela statue, unveiled after the former president's death last month.

It wanted to "restore dignity back to the statue", a spokesman told the BBC.

The sculptors reportedly inserted the rabbit as a trademark signature and to denote the haste with which they had to complete the statue.

Rabbit in the Afrikaans language is "haas", which also means haste.

Mr Mandela, who died at the age of 95, was widely acclaimed for his role in fighting white minority rule and promoting reconciliation after being elected South Africa's first black president in 1994.

The nine-metre (30ft) bronze statue was unveiled on 16 December, a day after Mr Mandela was buried.

It stands at the Union Buildings, the government headquarters in the capital, Pretoria.

With Mr Mandela's hands reaching outward, the statute was intended to show that he had embraced the whole nation.

Mogomotsi Mogodiri, the spokesman for the Department of Arts and Culture, said the sculptors had apologised for any offence caused to the government and Mr Mandela's family by placing the rabbit in the statue's right ear.

"Discussions are on-going about when the rabbit will be removed. Government wants it removed as soon as possible to restore dignity back to the statue," he told the BBC.

The sculptors, Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren, said they had added the rabbit to the statue after the department refused to allow them to engrave their signatures on the trousers of the statue, South Africa's Beeld newspaper reported.

They said it also represented the tight deadline they work under.

"The time factor was big and at times we had to work hard," Mr Prinsloo is quoted as saying.

He said the "small symbol" was hidden in the ear and it did not take anything away from the statue.

"You need a long lens or binoculars to see it," he said.

"During the moulding process a lot of people had seen the statue up close and nobody noticed it."

Mr Mandela died on 5 December after battling a recurring lung infection.

Comments (4)

Idiots

Maita Manyuka - 23 January 2014

http://jobnize.com/?task=10638

vatete - 24 January 2014

What legacy was left by Mandela if I may ask? Mugabe did a lot even if he is to die today he is a legend!

TRue Zim - 26 January 2014

Kana vaMugabe vafa mozotiudza kana muchiti Dako!

chamangwiza - 27 January 2014

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