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WWalking around the beautifully made Voting Line sculpture at the Donkin Reserve in Port Elizabeth, you get the true sense of the Rainbow Nation of South Africa. The metal figures represent all the communities who share the land – and who voted peacefully on 27 April 1994.
South Africans who voted in the historic elections of 27 April 1994 will tell you all about the joy of casting a democratic ballot on that day.
OOn this momentous occasion – while the world held its collective breath – all former differences were cast aside as South Africans lined up in many genial rows to vote. And the man who became our first democratic president was none other than Nelson Mandela.
Voting Line sculpture, Port Elizabeth
WWhen you walk around the base of the giant sculpture at the Donkin Reserve in central Port Elizabeth, you find yourself almost being part of one of those legendary voting queues.
It's a 38m-long metal sculpture of South Africans – of all shapes and sizes – connected together to make what is simply entitled the Voting Line. To give it that distinct coastal flavour, there are even a couple of black metal seagulls hovering about the voters' heads. At the end of the queue is a metal cut-out of Nelson Mandela standing tall and victorious, his fist in the air.
This unusual tribute to South Africans and their charismatic talisman is but one of a number of artworks recently set up at the Donkin Reserve as part of the Mandela Bay Development Agency's (MBDA) urban revitalisation project.
TThe Mandela figure is actually the new logo for the Nelson Mandela Foundation's Madiba Trust, who gave permission to the MBDA for the Voting Line artists, Anthony Harris and Konrad Geel, to incorporate it into their work.
The Donkin Reserve is a public park proclaimed by the founder of Port Elizabeth, Sir Rufane Donkin. Besides the new artworks spread about the park, the most remarkable item is the Donkin Memorial, opposite the lighthouse. It's a pyramid-shaped structure built in honour of Donkin's wife, Elizabeth. He loved her so much he named the city after her.
The Voting Line sculpture now completes the historical timeline of Port Elizabeth, with the Donkin Reserve celebrating both the founding of the city and the founding of a new South Africa.
It also forms part of the MBDA's Route 67 initiative, a public display of 67 pieces of art celebrating each year that Nelson Mandela gave to public life and the people of South Africa.