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Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Mandela statue planned for Trafalgar
Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square was once the scene of anti-apartheid protests
A group of leading public figures have launched a campaign to erect a bronze statue of Nelson Mandela in London's Trafalgar Square.

Lord Attenborough, writer Donald Woods, Lord Owen and Sir Richard Branson are among those trying to get the go-ahead for a nine-foot bronze statue of the former South African President.

We feel that Trafalgar Square was important in the whole Mandela story

Donald Woods

The statue is expected to fill a fifth plinth to be erected near South Africa House, now home of the South African High Commission and previously the scene of years of anti-apartheid protests.

Mr Woods, who finally won approval from Mr Mandela for the statue last month, said: "We never thought of anyone else. We just wanted to make a tribute to him.

"We feel that Trafalgar Square was important in the whole Mandela story. South Africa House used to have demonstrations to free him. To get it erected within a year would be great."

Planning permission

The group is trying to raise 285,000 in public donations to create the statue of Mr Mandela in a speech-making pose and mount it on a six-foot plinth.

Mr Mandela emerged from 27 years' imprisonment in 1990 as a champion of freedom and later became South Africa's first black president.
Neslon Mandela
Mandela has been visited by a British sculptor to start on the project

Planning permission would be needed for the statue and English Heritage would have to be informed about possible locations on or near Trafalgar Square.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, a known supporter of Mr Mandela and veteran of the demonstrations, would need to give the main consent for the project.

The Greater London Authority said it had not yet received a formal approach.

'Salute to freedom'

Sculptor Ian Walker of Battersea, south west London, has just returned from three weeks spent working with Mr Mandela on the statue at his home in Qunu in the Transkei.

He said: "It can be a sign of the importance of continuing the anti-racism struggle.

"Mandela's image is very important in doing that and as well as being a tribute to him it will also be a reminder of all the things done by people to make this world a better place."

A campaign spokesman added: "The statue will be a salute by the people of Britain to the liberated people of South Africa and will symbolise the special ties between the two countries."

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See also:

11 Feb 00 | Africa
Mandela marks prison release
18 Jul 00 | Africa
Mandela: 82 years young
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