Before the fall of apartheid December 16 was a Boer anniversary of a military victory over the Zulus.
Now it is South Africa’s Reconciliation Day, and following Sunday’s funeral of Nelson Mandela the ANC leadership turned out in Pretoria for the unveiling of a new nine-metre-high statue of the great man with his arms spread wide.
The Battle of Blood River in 1838 saw fewer than 500 Afrikaans colonists defeat a Zulu army of 10,000. The anniversary was renamed in 1994 as South Africa – then with Mandela as President – attempted to heal the wounds of three centuries of European domination.
Refering to the statue President Jacob Zuma said: “He’s embracing the whole nation, he’s advancing to the nation and says let us come together, let us unite.”
This is the first statue of Mandela not to feature a raised fist of rebellion, a significant departure and one the ANC is hoping will set the tone for the years to come.
After a week of mourning the clean-up has begun around the country, with the dismantling of shrines, the collection of wilted flowers, and the debris from crowds of tens of thousands of mourners to sweep away. Souvenir hunters also ensured no posters would go to waste.
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