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Monday May 13, 2013

KZN dusts off proposals for giant statue of King Shaka

The dust has been blown off proposals to give KwaZulu-Natal its own landmark superstructure - a towering statue of King Shaka holding an assegai - that will rival the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.

The statue in relation to the world's largest statues. From left, the Spring Temple Buddha (128m) in Zhaocun, China, King Shaka (106m), New York's Statue of Liberty (93m), The Motherland Calls(85m), Volvograd,Russia, and Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer(39.6m).

The announcement of the statue, planned for the Tugela River mouth, was made again, this time at the Tourism Indaba in Durban at the weekend.

Michael Mabuyakhulu, KZN's Economic Development and Tourism MEC, said the government wanted a statue of "significant size to reflect our Zulu heritage".

A similar announcement was made by former KZN premier S'bu Ndebele five years ago but, despite the fanfare, not even a bush has been cleared for the development.

But Mabuyakhulu excitedly told delegates at the International Convention Centre: "Such a statue of King Shaka will incorporate visitor facilities and culturally related experiences." He added that announcements on the commissioning of the statue would be made soon.

An artist's representation of the proposed statue.

In 2008, Ndebele was reported as saying the statue would cost R200 million and was expected to be 13m higher than the Statue of Liberty, which stands 93m from the ground.

"The imposing statue will be erected through private funding," Ndebele said.

He also announced a memorandum of understanding with a Dubai-based developer for the erection of the statue.

But Mabuyakhulu was mum on costs, admitting only that "some" of the costs would be covered by the state.

"The important thing is that the statue is a game-changer that will take Durban into a new era," he said.

He also announced that there were plans to develop a "smaller version" of the International Convention Centre in Richards Bay or KwaDukuza.

Last year the provincial government was criticised for "wasting" taxpayer's money on two statues of King Shaka which, together, cost R6.4 million.

The original R3.2m statue - sculpted by Durban artist Andries Botha - was removed in 2009 from King Shaka International Airport following complaints from King Goodwill Zwelithini who said it made Shaka look like a herd boy and not the Zulu warrior king.

Sculptor Peter Hall was commissioned last year to construct a new statue.

"We will reach a consensus. There will be no issues after the statue is built. I won't debate the issues of design. Ideally, Shaka will be holding a spear..." said Mabuyakhulu.

Ndabe Sibiya, from Premier Zweli Mkhize's office, said the premier would consult the Zulu royal house and a make an announcement on Hall's statue in the "next few days".

Head of Durban Tourism Phillip Sithole welcomed news of the giant statue and the mini-ICC.

"Shaka's statue is important because it will reflect well on Durban, which is known as a Zulu place."

The Mercury

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