Madiba’s se­cret rab­bit

Tiny sig­na­ture on huge Man­dela statue causes some sur­prise

Weekend Witness - - News - COBUS CLAASSEN

WHAT, a rab­bit in Madiba’s ear? Re­ally, a rab­bit?

That was the re­ac­tion of Arts and Cul­ture spokesper­son Mack Lewele, when he was asked about the the rab­bit hid­den in the right ear of the huge statue of Nel­son Man­dela at the Union Build­ings.

Lewele said the depart­ment was not aware of the hid­den an­i­mal and would in­ves­ti­gate. Sis­ter pa­per Beeld pro­vided a pic­ture of the se­cret.

Pre­to­ria sculp­tors Ruhan Janse van Vu­uren and An­dré Prinsloo pulled the rab­bit out of the hat — or the ear — this week.

They said they placed it as their “sig­na­ture” af­ter the depart­ment wouldn’t let them place their sig­na­tures on the bot­tom of one of the statue’s trouser legs.

“The rab­bit [ haas in Afrikaans] is sym­bolic of the haste [ haas in Afrikaans] with which the statue had to be made. The time was short and we of­ten worked very long days,” said Prinsloo.

Janse van Vu­uren said he wanted to leave his mark so that one day his grand­chil­dren would be able to point to the statue and claim it as his work.

Prinsloo said the hid­den rab­bit doesn’t in­trude on the statue. “You need a long lens or binoc­u­lars to see it.”

He said no one no­ticed it dur­ing the cast­ing process.

“We thought some­one would even­tu­ally spot it, but not so soon. There’s re­ally no deeper mean­ing be­hind it,” he said.

Janse van Vu­uren said they are happy the statue has be­come a vis­i­tor favourite in the month it has been in place. “As an artist you are never com­pletely sat­is­fied. I would have liked to put pat­terns on Madiba’s shirt to rep­re­sent his trade­mark look, but the depart­ment pre­ferred a sim­ple, clean im­age.”

Lewele de­clined to say whether the depart­ment would con­sider re­mov­ing the rab­bit. “We would first want to hear what the artists have to say be­fore dis­cussing it in­ter­nally,” he said.


The rab­bit in the right ear of for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela’s bronze statue at the Union Build­ings.

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