South Africa’s Department of Arts and Culture has written to the sculptors of that country’s official statue of former President Nelson Mandela, demanding that they remove a small rabbit that they moulded in Mandela’s ear. The sculptors, Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren, created the rabbit in protest when they were not allowed to leave their signatures on the statue.
The gesture was also a joke: the word for rabbit in Afrikaans is “haas,” which is the same as the word for “haste,” a reference to the tight deadline for finishing the statue.
The 9-m (28-ft) statue was unveiled last month at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, following Mandela’s passing and funeral. The sculptors intended the rabbit to be very difficult to see, but local newspapers, including the Afrikaans-language Beeld, discovered their secret creation.
The government is examining options for removing the rabbit as quickly as possible, and has apparently ordered the sculptors not to speak to the media, the Beeld reports–presumably because of the government’s embarrassment.
Update: The sculptors have apologized to the government, according to News24.com.
Photo credit: Herman Steyn/RSG