It’s been announced that Nelson Mandela will attend next Wednesday’s unveiling of the statue being erected in his honour on Parliament Square.
The unveiling marks the end of a determined seven year campaign to see a permanent memorial in the heart of London that recognises the former South African President’s achievements and the struggle against apartheid.
A spokesperson for Mr Mandela said he was “honoured by the initiative taken by the British public paying tribute to him in this way.”
“He has accepted the invitation from the Mayor of London and will attend the unveiling of the statue…Mr Mandela looks forward to the ceremony and will be accompanied by his wife, Mrs Graca Machel.”
The statue is the work of Ian Walters who was chosen by anti-apartheid campaigner Donald Woods because of his sculpture of Mandela on the South Bank and his links with the anti-apartheid movement.
Mr Mandela sat for Walters for a total of nine hours and the clay model of the statue was completed just before Walters died last August. Before his death he chose Nigel Boonham to supervise the completion of the statue.
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, said “there can be no better way for this statue to be unveiled than with Nelson Mandela himself present. Nelson Mandela’s struggle against apartheid symbolised both the fight against racist tyranny and the universal struggle for human rights.”
“The statue underlines the warm friendship between Nelson Mandela and the people of London. The placing of the statue in one of our most famous squares is an important moment reflecting Nelson Mandela’s significance as a world statesman and one of the key political figures of our time.”