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Learning English - Words in the News
29 August, 2007 - Published 12:36 GMT
London unveils Mandela statue
Model of the Nelson Mandela statue

A statue of Nelson Mandela is being unveiled in London's Parliament Square today. Mr Mandela, who is 89, and his wife Graca Machel are joined by the Mayor of London and anti-apartheid campaigners, as well as gospel singers and dancers. This report from Emily Buchanan:

Listen to the story

The nine foot bronze shows Nelson Mandela standing and gesturing, as if making a speech. The idea for the monument was initiated by the anti-apartheid activist, Donald Woods. He chose the sculptor Ian Walters who began the work six years ago. Sadly, neither man lived to see today's ceremony.

The statue's fate has been dogged by arguments over where it should go, as well as its artistic merit. The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, had wanted it to stand on the north side of Trafalgar Square. But in 2005 Westminster Council refused permission, saying it would clutter the space needed for large events. It was finally agreed it should face the Houses of Parliament and stand alongside other great leaders, such as Winston Churchill, Benjamin Disraeli and Abraham Lincoln.

Gordon Brown will attend the unveiling. Yesterday he described Mr Mandela as 'the most inspiring, the greatest and the most courageous leader of our generation'.

Emily Buchanan, BBC

Listen to the words

moving your hands, arms or head to show an idea or feeling

initiated by
made something start

anti-apartheid activist
someone who protests against laws which make it illegal for people of different races to live equally together

person who makes statues and other works of art from materials such as clay, stone, wood, metal etc.

neither man lived to see
the two men died before they could see

what happens to a particular person or thing (here, the statue), especially something final or negative

followed someone or something closely and continually

artistic merit
the quality of the statue's art

mess or overcrowd

showing something (here, the statue) publicly for the first time

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