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That statue features sort-of-Mandela with his arms stretched out in a Christ-like gesture of compassion and welcome. The new one has upped the stakes, and the arms, by having Samuel L De Niro reaching for the skies: smiling down at the floor, his hands in the air, he gives the impression of a good-natured grandfather witnessing some sort of comical domestic disaster unfolding on the carpet in front of him, like a tea tray being dropped or someone tripping over the dog or Jacob Zuma being appointed as president by the ANC.

People are saying unkind things about the statue donated to the United Nations by Cyril Ramaphosa, but let’s give credit where credit is due: if you ever wondered what a Samuel L Jackson impersonator would look like doing an impression of Robert De Niro inGoodfellas, then this statue is absolute perfection. Despite what you might assume by looking at the object, this isn’t the sculptors’ first attempt at making a statue. It’s not even their first go at Mandela: Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren are also responsible for the 9m colossus in the gardens of the Union Buildings, a literal monument to dismal political art and proof that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That statue features sort-of-Mandela with his arms stretched out in a Christ-like gesture of compassion and welcome. The new one has upped the stakes, and the arms, by having Samuel L De Niro reaching for the skies: smiling down at the floor, his hands in the air, he gives the impression of a good-natur...

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