Media Statement

03 November 2022

Unveiling of the First Nelson Mandela Statue in Bulgaria

The official unveiling of the first monument in Sofia in honour of the iconic world leader, Mr Nelson Mandela, will take place on Thursday, 03 November 2022. The ceremony will take place at 12h00 pm on 2 Nikolay Rakitin Street, in front of Polygraphia Office Center in Sofia. The event is organised on the initiative of the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa in Bulgaria and the partners Lion's Head and Polygraphia Office Centre.

The statue will be officially unveiled by HE Thabo Thage, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of South Africa to Bulgaria; Mr Nikolay Milkov, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Ms Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Sofia; and Mr Christo Iliev, CEO of Lion's Head.

This historic event will also mark the important 30th anniversary of successful diplomatic relations between South Africa and Bulgaria, which have contributed to the development of both countries.

The Embassy initiated this project with the aim of preserving the legacy of Mr Nelson Mandela and celebrating his life dedicated to a cause, which made him a celebrated global statesman in the struggle for peace and equality. Bulgaria presented Mr Mandela with the Georgi Dimitrov Order in 1986, which was the highest order under the previous dispensation in the country, at a time when he was in prison. In 2008 he was recognised again - with the Stara Planina Order, which is the highest order under the present democratic dispensation in Bulgaria. Mr Mandela has been awarded more than 250 prizes, including the Nobel Peace Prize (1993).

The project was realised entirely through the generous financing by Polygraphia Office Center JSC, with the company providing the location for the statue and covering all costs of its installation and maintenance. The company owns the office building and adjacent property. Polygraphia Office Center, as well as Megapark in Sofia and three buildings in Bucharest are part of the Lion's Head’s portfolio. It is a joint venture between AG Capital and Old Mutual Property, which is part of the Old Mutual Group, a financial group founded more than 170 years ago in South Africa and operating in 14 countries worldwide.

The author of the statue is the South African sculptor, Zelda Stroud, and its unveiling in Sofia has received official permission by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Mr Nelson Mandela was President of the Republic of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and was the first Head of State elected in a democratic South Africa. As President, Mr Mandela focused, among others, on the reconciliation of the people of South Africa and the building of a nation united in its diversity. He epitomised the struggle against poverty and inequality. More than 120 streets, boulevards, roads, and bridges worldwide bear the name of Mr Nelson Mandela and monuments of him have been mounted in Santiago, Milan and London and many other places across the world. In Sofia this historic monument follows the naming of a street also in honour of Mr Mandela.

Media contacts:

Embassy of South Africa in Sofia

Tel: +359 2 939 50 15

sofia.political@dirco.gov.za

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Rietondale
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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa