French pay tribute to Mr Nelson Mandela
As South Africa and the world bid a final farewell to former President Nelson Mandela, our beloved Madiba, the French too will celebrate his life. The South Africa-France Seasons 2012 & 2013, in partnership with the City of Paris and SETE (la Sociète d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel) have arranged a special tribute to Mandela by illuminating the Eiffel Tower between 14-16 December 2013.
For three nights, the inscription "NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013" will light up on the Trocadero facade of the Eiffel Tower in illuminated five meter-high letters; while the tower's light beams with be lit in the colours of the South African flag.
Mr Paul Mashatile, South African Minister of Arts and Culture, says, “We thank the people of France for their support during this painful time. Let us continue celebrating Tata Madiba’s life and the virtues that he stood for. In paying tribute to him, let us also remember that he has run a successful race. He has made his mark. He has earned his rest. Madiba will continue to be a source of inspiration, spurring us on to believe that tomorrow will be better that today and yesterday; and that the goal of a caring and more humane world is within reach".
On Sunday 15 December, the day that Mandela's funeral is scheduled to take place in his childhood village of Qunu, this tribute will commence at 17h30. At the same time, a public initiative organised on the Facebook page "The Eiffel Tower and 1000 Candles for Nelson Mandela on 15 December in Paris" invites the citizens of Paris to gather on the Esplanade of Human Rights with a candle. Each person's candle is to be lit at 17h30.
The tribute will continue on 16 December, on South Africa's Day of Reconciliation, a public holiday renamed by Mandela himself.
Bongani Tembe, Commissioner-General of the South African Season in France says "On behalf of the people of South Africa, I would like to thank the city of Paris and its citizens for this initiative. We are extremely touched by this very heartwarming tribute to Madiba by the French people."
The Seasons will come to a close next week in Paris after approximately 1,000 artists, cultural heritage practitioners, academics, children and sportsmen from South Africa travelled to France to take part in a multi-faceted collaboration between the two countries. In honour of Mandela a garden in central Paris will be named after him at a ceremony to be held next week. The naming ceremony will be attended by Minister Mashatile.
Photographer: T. Chapotot - South Africa - France Seasons 2012 & 2013