Social Issues November 7, 2012
Release: A Powerful Monument To Nelson Mandela


On August 5, 1962, politician and peace activist Nelson Mandela was arrested in South Africa and charged with 193 acts of sabotage.

The arrest, and the trial that came afterwards, led to Mandela spending 27 years in prison. He was finally released on February 11, 1990.

Now South African artist Marco Cianfanelli has erected a monument to Mandela at the spot where that arrest took place - in a town called Howick, 90 kilometres south of the city of Durban.

The sculpture is called 'Release,' and it is built from 50 steel columns (one for each year since Mandela's arrest).


In a statement, Cianfanelli says "the 50 columns represent the 50 years since his capture, but they also suggest the idea of many making the whole, of solidarity."


The use of steel bars also recalls Mandela's 27 years behind bars, imprisoned for his efforts to bring equal rights and governmental representation to South Africa, which was a racially divided nation under Apartheid.


The artist also says his piece highlights an irony of Mandela's story: "It points to an irony as the political act of Mandela's incarceration cemented his status as an icon of struggle, which helped ferment the groundswell of resistance, solidarity and uprising, bringing about political change and democracy."


On April 20, 1964, at the opening of the defense's case at his trial, Mandela explained the reasoning behind the actions that led to his arrest:

"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."


To learn more about Mandela, his life, and what he stands for, check out the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.


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