Commemorative Madiba mural to go up in Johannesburg’s Place of Light
Following the passing of South Africa’s greatest leader, a 40m high mural will be painted next week in the Maboneng Precinct to honour Madiba’s legacy and vision for the country.
With Maboneng being hailed as a tangible example of the possibility and opportunity brought about by transformation, Propertuity developer and CEO, Jonathan Liebmann, was determined to ?nd a way in which to commemorate this icon in the downtown neighbourhood. The solution presented itself in the company’s most recent property acquisition, Access the City, which features an 9 story wall where street artist and art activist, Ricky Lee Gordon (Freddy Sam) has been commissioned to paint a mural in honour of Nelson Mandela.
The mural will be painted over 3 days this week, starting on 14 December, to be complete by the day of Reconciliation on 16 December. The mural is inspired by the famous Bob Gosani image of Nelson Mandela boxing on a Johannesburg rooftop, and will be positioned in such a way that it faces the site where the image was photographed. The use of the image has been arranged with the Bailey African History Archive (BAHA) and the artist’s family.
Ricky Lee Gordon (A WORD OF ART) says he is humbled by the opportunity to pay tribute in this way. “I want to create a piece of art that will stand tall above the city for generations to come. I want it to be a gift to the city, a gift to the memory of Madiba and for thousands of people to be reminded of his legacy and the work we still need to do to echo his vision” says Gordon. The text of the mural will read “I AM BECAUSE WE ARE”, inspired by the de?nition of Ubuntu: a philosophy highlighting togetherness and humanity.
Gordon explains, “Nelson Mandela taught us that we cannot be human by ourselves. This is a constant theme in all my work”. Both Gordon’s growing reputation as a street artist and his art activism work made him a perfect candidate for the execution of this project.
His more recent project, Colour Ikamva, is focused on helping disadvantaged youths to co create inspiring environments for education in their schools and classrooms, resonating with Madiba’s advocacy of the importance of quality education for youths. “We selected the image of him boxing as the site of the mural is not too far from where he trained and where the image was taken. He [Nelson Mandela] believed that, in the ring, you are equal to others, and he proved that through self discipline, perseverance and most of all love, you can concur the most dif?cult of circumstances”, says Gordon.
Jonathan Liebmann reiterates these sentiments explaining why the mural has a perfect position in Maboneng: “Maboneng stands as a great example of everything Mandela fought for. Despite many unique challenges over the past 5 years, Propertuity and the Maboneng community have persisted with passion and undying commitment to rebuild a piece of Johannesburg: a place that can be enjoyed by all South Africans and a true example of what the new South Africa can become. A place of light where people from varying backgrounds have the opportunity to live and work happily in the same