NEWS

Don't Forget The Struggle Heroes, And Here's A Plan For A New 5m Statue To Remind You

The Department of Arts and Culture wants a statue of the late "Oom Ray" Mhlaba in his hometown of Fort Beaufort.

05/02/2017 17:57 SAST | Updated 05/02/2017 18:11 SAST
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This file picture from December 16, 2001, shows a Rivonia Treason trialists reunion. From left are: advocate Arthur Chaskalson, from the legal team who defended the Rivonia trialists, and former Chief Justice; trialist Andrew Mlangeni; trialist Denis Goldberg; trialist and former Eastern Cape Premier Raymond Mhlaba; and trialist Rusty Bernstein.

Twelve years after he died, the government wants to put up a bronze statue of the first Premier of the Eastern Cape Ray Mhlaba. It will be in Mhlaba's hometown of Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape and will be five metres high (the statue of Nelson Mandela outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria is nine metres).

The national Department of Arts and Culture is running the project and has issued a tender that closes on February 17. The tender was advertised in the weekend newspapers.

"The primary objective of this project is to promote and preserve the legacy of Oom Ray, social cohesion and nation building. Broadly speaking, it is also about recovering, and even comprehending memory of a complex and often troubled South African history, not only for posterity but also for present knowledge production," said the department in the tender documents.

The 5m statue will be installed in the Tony Yengeni Square in Fort Beaufort.

The plaque that goes with the statue "must be inscribed with a well-researched summarised inscription of between 150 and 300 words, detailing who Oom Ray was, and his contribution towards the liberation struggle and construction of democracy in this country" and must be written in more than one language, likely English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans, said the tender.

Fort Beaufort is in Nkonkobe Local Municipality, now renamed Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality.

Mhlaba was born in Fort Beaufort in 1920, became a member and leader of the ANC and the SACP and was a founder member of the ANC's armed wing Mkhonto weSizwe (MK). He was jailed on Robben Island until 1989, was the first premier of the Eastern Cape, then South African High Commissioner to Uganda. He retired in 2001 and died in 2005.