Nobel Square for SA’s laureates

5 August 2005

Renowned Venda artist Noria Mabasa gets inspiration for her work through dreams.

The 70-year-old from Limpopo made the trek to Cape Town as one of the artists chosen to work on the Western Cape’s Nobel Square project.

Work on the site is set to start in early August, with the completed project to be unveiled on 16 December, when South Africa celebrates Reconciliation Day.

Located at the popular V&A Waterfront, Nobel Square will honour South Africa’s four Nobel Peace laureates: the late Chief Albert Luthuli, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and former presidents Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk.

The provincial government announced the names of the two artists chosen to work on the project at a briefing held near the Square on Tuesday.

Cape Town artist Claudette Schreuders has been selected to join Mabasa on the project. Schreuders will produce bronze sculptures.

Mabasa’s work, referred to as the “fifth element”, will reflect the contribution of women and children to peace and democracy in the country. Her work, a carving, is described as having “a quiet dignity”.

Speaking through an interpreter, grey-haired Mabasa expressed joy at being selected to work on the project. “The inspiration for my work comes to me in my dreams,” she said. “My father came to me and asked, ‘Why don’t you do this?’.”

Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool said the project was part of the government’s vision to make the province “a home for all”.

Describing the laureates as “architects of freedom”, he said three of them had spent considerable time in the province, which included jail time in the case of Mandela.

“The Waterfront has a confluence of people from all over. They can share in our rich history and the contribution the country made to the world in terms of peace and democracy”, Rasool said.

Derick van der Merwe, CEO of the V&A Waterfront Company, said 22 million visitors would have access to the project.

The five sculptures will be cast in bronze, with the laureates being a bit larger than life-size. Selected quotations from them will be engraved at the front.


Mandela, speaking at the original launch of the project in December 2003, described the Nobel Square as a gesture celebrating and promoting reconciliation. “We need to celebrate ourselves and our achievement as often as we can”, said Mandela, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with FW de Klerk in 1993.

Tutu, the 1984 recipient, said that the real heroes of South Africa were the so-called ordinary people. “What happens here is not a tribute to the four of us, but to the people of South Africa.”

Also present at the launch was Albertina Luthuli, the daughter of the country’s first Nobel laureate, the late Chief Albert Luthuli. Luthuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960, but due to the situation in the country he could only travel to Norway the following year to receive it.

“How he would have loved to have lived to vote and witness the birth of the new South Africa in 1994”, Luthuli said.

De Klerk, like his fellow laureates, said credit should go to those they represented. “May this monument remind us to be aware that the new South Africa has given us something precious.”

The project has the blessing of the Nobel Institute in Norway.

The Nobel Prize, established in 1901 by Alfred Nobel, is awarded annually and recognises excellence and contributions in the five categories of peace, literature, physics, chemistry and medicine.

SouthAfrica.info reporter and BuaNews

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