Speech by Minister Pallo Jordan at the unveilling of the Bronze Sculpture of Galloping Horses by Danie de Jager at the new location of University of Pretoria

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27 Nov 2008

The Host, Prof. Antony Melck, Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor and Principal
And Chairperson of the University of Pretoria Arts Committee,
Dr. Gerhard Koornhof, Member of Parliament,
Mr. Koos van der Merwe, Member of Parliament,
Mr. Joggie Boers, Member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislator,
Members of the University of Pretoria Council,
Members of the University of Pretoria Executive Management,
Deans and Directors of the University of Pretoria,
Dr. Masitha Hoeane, Manager of University of Pretoria Arts,
Members of the University of Pretoria Arts Committee,
Mr. Piet Mondriaan, Representative of the City of Tshwane Metro Municipality,
Mrs. Elsa de Jager, widow of the sculptor Danie de Jager, family and friends,
Trustees of the Danie de Jager Trust,
Representatives of the Arts Fraternity,
Members of Staff of the University of Pretoria and Guests,

Amongst the changes that were being effected in celebrating 50 years of the Women’s March to Pretoria on the 9 August 2006 was the renaming of Strijdom Square to Lilian Ngoyi Square in honour of the stalwart Lilian Ngoyi who was a strong and steadfast leader. She played an important role in the struggle against apartheid and she was an activist for a democratic, non-racial and no-sexist South Africa. She led the Women’s Anti-Pass March to the Union Buildings on the 9th August 1956. Lillian Ngoyi dedicated her adult life to this dream of a democratic country and is worthy of being remembered in this manner.

When the media reported the redevelopment of the Square, it seemed like the Danie de Jager sculpture might no longer be required.

It was during November 2006 that Member of Parliament, Dr. Gerhard Koornhof made a request to me that the University of Pretoria, which is celebrating it’s Centenary Year this year, is interested in having this sculpture. After a series of negotiations with the Provincial Government and with the Municipality, this request was accepted and hence this unveiling this morning.

The University, formerly a teacher training college, is taking its place a a democratic South Africa. It can and will play a pivotal role in educating the vast numbers of students who enrol each year. This investment in our human capital will go a long way in transforming our country. That contribution will go a long way towards changing public perceptions of this institution especially given its past.

The Equine Group that we see here is a splendid art piece by Danie de Jager, whose love of animals was captured in over 120 larger than life bronze sculptures. He ranks amongst the most experienced contemporary sculptors in the world and is one of the few South African sculptors to have earned international acclaim.

The Equine Group is one of the largest bronze sculptures in Africa. It certainly is a prized addition to the art collection of the University. De Jager’s work can be seen not only in many parts of our country, but in America, Europe and the Middle East. He was well sought after. De Jager’s sculptures not only occupies public spaces but are housed in private collections. He worked in both very large scale and down to small sculptures. He was a prolific artist, very talented and hard-working.

The location chosen for this huge bronze sculpture on a three metre plinth is appropriate – the horses do look like they are galloping freely over these greens unlike its former location in the busy city centre on a fifteen metre high plinth.

Government appreciates the value of this artwork and therefore donated it to the University so that it would continue to be in the public eye, available for everyone to enjoy. Danie de Jager has bequeathed his legacy of art not only to South Africa but indeed the world. The University of Pretoria is now the proud custodian of a piece of our national art heritage. I hand it over to you in the confidence that it shall be preserved for future generations of South Africans.

Thank you.