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Symbol of Multiculturalism
East London, Eastern Cape

Francesco PERILLI: Sculptor

Date:2006
Type:Monument
Status:Extant

 


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Coordinates:
33°00'57.97" S 27°55'13.17" E Alt: 18m

Located on the East London esplanade, in close proximity to the German Memorial, the monumental Symbol of Multiculturalism was unveiled on 16 December 2006 and remains as a symbol of East London's commitment to multiculturalism.

This postmodern cast bronze sculpture, placed on a tall circular concrete shaft, represents a man at the centre of the globe striving to join the ends of two meridians. A universal man, he is depicted here devoid of facial features, hair or clothing to avoid references associating him with any specific group. The eight doves which surround him - each connected to an individual meridian - symbolize peace and the cultural vitality of a new society under the banner of mutual respect. The ten meridians are joined at their base by two separate lines of latitude.

The Symbol of Multiculturalism was sculpted by Francesco Perilli, an Italian artist and sculptor. He was born in Nereto, in the province of Teramo, Italy on October 4,1949 and lives and works there. The same Symbol of Multiculturalism has also been placed in other parts of the world - on each of the five continents - thereby fulfilling Perilli's multiculturalism dream. This particular statue was donated by the artist and the Nereto municipality.

A commemorative bronze plaque was mounted on the seaward side of the concrete support shaft and had the following wording:

SYMBOL OF MULTICULTURALISM
CREATED BY FRANCESCO PERILLI
DONATED BY
THE NERETO MUNICIPALITY (ITALY)
TO THE PEOPLE OF THE EASTERN
CAPE PROVINCE
AND FOR THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

"WE MIGHT HAVE OUR DIFFERENCES,
BUT WE ARE ONE PEOPLE
WITH A COMMON DESTINY
IN OUR RICH VARIETY OF CULTURE,
RACE AND TRADITION"

Nelson Mandela

EAST LONDON, SOUTH AFRICA
DECEMBER 16th 2006

(Mandela’s words and the use of his signature were officially authorized
for use on the plaque by the Nelson Mandela Foundation).

The support shaft comprises a standard pre-cast concrete pipe rising out of a raised, circular pond, clad in polished brown granite. A substantial annular concrete ring is elevated and set at an angle above the pond walls, supported at three points on its perimeter. This was intended to represent an African drum supported by two elephant’s tusks.

About three years after the sculpture had been unveiled, three of the bronze doves were stolen. It was therefore decided to increase the height of the shaft as a security measure. An additional length of precast pipe was added to the shaft, raising the sculpture out of reach. Perilli was commissioned to cast the replacement doves. A small square plot of ground around the sculpture was fenced off with a galvanised palisade fence.

At some point the original bronze commemorative plaque was removed by persons unknown and has since been replaced with a replica made of durable green moulded plastic.

References: Pers. comm. with Marina Marchetti, the (then) Honourary Italian Vice-Consul in East London, 2021.

William Martinson
Osmond Lange Architects, 2021.

These notes were last edited on 2021 10 01