Incredible Story of South African Elephant Sculptures

To mark the 2010 FIFA World cup in South Africa, sculptor Andries Botha could finally unveil his huge elephant sculptures in Durban. He made his elephant out of galvanized steel armature with stainless steel filled with stones.


Sadly enough, just two weeks before he completed the sculptures, ANC (African National Congress) asked him to stop the project since they saw similarity to the Inkatha Freedom Party’s logo. But when he waited for the city decision whether he should continue finishing his job, his three elephant sculptures were already damaged. Two were partially damaged and the other one was destroyed by vandals, splashed with red paint and the metal wiring was removed, causing the rocks to fall out.


Decided to complete his project, Botha added a fourth elephant but needed to differentiate his work from the IFP logo. Then he started to rebuild in 2014. He said that the fourth elephant would be standing surrounded by three emerging from the ground in different poses. His work symbolizes the rebirth of elephants, because he thought that the real elephants used to roam the area before they were hunted and killed.


On Botha’s website he wrote a heartfelt thank you letter for those who gave him lots of supports for his vision. Here is what he had to say in his letter as quoted by My Modern Met: “May I take this opportunity to address the most important aspect of the success that we have gained in the so-called ‘Elephant Saga’ in Durban. In hindsight it is completely evident to me that the victory in securing the rebuilding of the elephants is an example of a multi-layered advocacy that does not include one person, but many. I have personally been encouraged and taken heart from the many supporters that have spoken passionately and articulately about the tragedy of the Durban Elephants. You are all too many to name, those of you who have loyally supported the social networks and spoken your strong and articulate views about the on-going saga between myself and the eThekwini municipality”.


“I would like to unreservedly thank you for your support in securing this important legal decision on behalf of the freedom of speech, the right for the public to have access to creativity and last, but not least, the moral authority of a work of art as a piece of intellectual property that is so adequately protected by our constitution. You have all played a most significant and important part in this significant victory. It is also now true that the elephants have now truly become part of the public property and ownership.”

Source: My Modern Met, Andries Botha, Instagram

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