The V&A Waterfront is the home of four bronze statues of four men who are part of a proud moment in South African history. Collectively they brought down a system of government that was faulty and inhumane in a peaceful manner with the minimum of bloodshed. These men each represent a sector of the society who supported them so in fact they stand as representatives of all the people who suffered hardships and some who lost their lives for the cause.
These four men were all recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize for their achievements.
Nelson Mandela gave 27 years if his life to see a free and peaceful South Africa and was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1993. Under Mandela’s statue, which is embossed with a pattern to emulate the colourful shirts he liked to wear, is written:
Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will experience the oppression of one by another.
F.W. de Klerk was the last person to head the apartheid government and who chose the path to peaceful negotiation. He released Nelson Mandela and disbanded the ANC and worked together with Nelson Mandela to re-write the South African Constitution. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 together with Nelson Mandela in 1993.
At the base of his statue is inscribed the following:
Our new Constitution is a powerful symbol of reconciliation, justice and of the ending of centuries of conflict.
This world renowned leader, Desmond Tutu, was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1984. He was always outspoken against the apartheid government but later became the biggest icon for reconciliation and was very active in this regard. He continues to be outspoken about aspects of the government that affect the poor and oppressed. The inscription on his statue is:
A person is a person through other people. (which is the English version of the word Ubuntu).
Albert Luthuli holds the honour of being the first African man to win the Nobel Peace prize, which he idid in 1961. He was the president of the ANC in 1952 and suffered many hardships when he was arrested, banned and charged on many occasions, as well as being imprisoned. At the base of his statue is inscribed:
What is important is that we can build a homogeneous South Africa on the basis not of colour, but of human values.
The artist commissioned to create these four statues was Claudette Schreuders from Cape Town. The slightly larger than life size bronze statues all have an upright and noble stance with fine features that express their characters as individuals and at the same time a similar look of compassion and determination.
The statues stand in a semicircle a few feet away from each other overlooking the Square with their backs to the sea and Robben Island. The positioning of the statues in a place where people go about their daily business, instead of on some high hill above the city, is symbolic of the fact that they were men of the people for the people.
This sculpture is 16m away from the four Peace Laureates’s statues mentioned above and is dedicated to the recognition of the sacrifices of the women and children to the peace process. This striking work of art was sculpted in clay, by artist Noria Mabasa from Vuwani in Limpopo Province. The sculpture was cast in bronze and is 1530 mm high and 1030 mm wide and stands on a pink unpolished granite plinth in the centre of Nobel Square. It is a composite work that tells a story like a book. The main features are Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk with clasped hands. The piece represents freedom, racial tolerance and reconciliation.
The Waterfront is always open but a clear day is the best time to visit these five magnificent statues.
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