On 17 July 2014, a commemorative mural that celebrates Nelson Mandela’s legacy and 20 years of democracy in South Africa was unveiled in Milan, Italy by Mayor Giuliano Pisapia and South African Consul-General Saul Kgomotso Molobi.
The artwork at Fabbrica del Vapore was created by leading street artists PaoPao, Nais, Orticanoodles and Ivan, and commissioned by the City of Milan with support from the South African government and Building Energy, an independent renewable energy producer.
The artwork, a merging of different artistic styles, draws inspiration from South Africa’s democracy, where diverse people and cultures coexist.
In the mural, artist Ivan includes a quote by Nelson Mandela (“It always seems impossible until it’s done”), combined with a sensual representation by Nais of a female figure, an African mother. Orticanoodles, a couple who specialises in large-scale street portraits, created Mr Mandela’s face, while PaoPao included the people of the world and coordinated the different styles.
The colours chosen for the mural – yellow, red and blue – are colours of the South African flag and represent the country’s diversity of cultures and people.
Celebrating South Africa’s freedom
Twenty years ago, on 27 April 1994, South Africa cast aside centuries of discrimination and oppression to form a new society built on the foundation of freedom and democracy. The date marked the end of apartheid rule and the introduction of a new Constitutional order, one that prioritised a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
“On the eve of Mandela Day, Milan participates in the celebration of 20 years of democracy in South Africa by honouring the man who led the fight for the country’s liberation from apartheid – a father of the nation who made mutual respect the winning force for the long walk to freedom of South Africans. The mural we unveil today here at Fabbrica del Vapore will bear witness to Madiba’s legacy and values in a venue dedicated to the creativity of younger generations from all countries. For them and for all citizens it is a lesson and a commitment,” said Mayor Pisapia.
“The hopes and dreams of humanity for a better world were infused in our fight against apartheid, which espoused the universal quest for freedom, democracy and justice – the principles represented in the mural which we want to donate to the City of Milan,” said Consul-General Molobi.
“This year our country celebrates 20 years of democracy and freedom, an opportunity for us to reflect on the role of ordinary citizens and of the world in the fight against apartheid and to celebrate the legacy we inherited from them,” he said.
“We are proud to celebrate, together with the South African government and the City of Milan, the 20 years of democracy in South Africa,” said Fabrizio Zago, CEO of Building Energy.
“The artwork unveiled today and dedicated to Mandela, represents one element of a wider and more articulated framework of our involvement with South Africa, which includes the construction of the largest photovoltaic plant in Africa and the making of the documentary Ray of Life, a film that aims to tell the tale of the social impact of renewable energy in this extraordinary country from an artistic and emotional perspective,” he added.