Ramaphosa unveils 9-metre statue of OR Tambo

The statue shows Tambo with his hand stretched out in front of him holding a book which resembles that of the freedom charter.

The newly-erected nine-metre statue of late struggle icon Oliver Tambo at the OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: @MbalulaFikile/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday unveiled a nine-metre statue of OR Tambo in Kempton Park saying it symbolised freedom and a united nation moving forward in the development the struggle hero wanted to see.

The statue showed Tambo with his hand stretched out in front of him holding a book which resembled that of the freedom charter.

Tuesday would have marked his 103rd birthday.

Ramaphosa said Tambo was the architect of South Africa's freedom.

“It is, therefore, most fitting that this statue that we’ve erected here at the airport that is named after him is going to be a gateway to the continent and to the world. As people who come to visit our country, taking their first steps on South African soil, they will see this magnificent bronze statue, gleaming in the South African sunlight.”

With many raising concerns about the cost of the statue, Ramaphosa said it was nothing compared to what the struggle hero represents for the country.

“Like the statue of President Mandela at the Union Buildings in Tshwane, I have no doubt that this one too will become a major tourist attraction and I am pleased that you have also put it here almost at the centre of the airport buildings to be indeed a magnet.”

The president said it was a project that has been planned for a long time.

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