Mandela portrait: art that will warm your heart

The largest Madiba portrait has been unveiled at Zonderwater Correctional Centre in Cullinan, east of Pretoria.

The Massive Mandela Masterpiece, made in collaboration with inmates and the 67 Blankets movement, is the world’s largest portrait of the late former statesman � and it’s all made from knitted blankets.

The colossal portrait is made from 3 000 blankets, which were knitted by inmates from different correctional centres. The 7 000 square metre portrait is big enough to be seen from outer space and is a fitting tribute in honour of Madiba.

The portrait is not just for the sake of art or breaking the Guinness Record: all the blankets that make up the portrait will be distributed to communities in need throughout South Africa.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha said on Tuesday at the portrait unveiling that his department’s participation in the project was a great source of pride for the inmates.

Undoubtedly, we take pride in this crocheting project as it presents an opportunity where inmates across the country are giving back to society, Minister Masutha said.

The Department of Correctional Services have hailed the blanket knitting project as therapeutic value for offenders, with significantly large psychological and social benefits which can improve their wellbeing and quality of life.

The project is part of a nationwide programme of events to mark Madiba’s centenary. Minister Masutha said the knitting project will supplement a bouquet of skills development programmes geared to empower inmates. This is done in order to help rehabilitate offenders and get them ready for life out of prison.

Let us support ex-offenders and assist our communities to embrace the concept of corrections as a societal responsibility, Minister Masutha said.

Correctional services, the Minister said, will amplify its efforts in terms of making all 243 correctional facilities real centres of learning.

We are witnessing a number of ex-offenders venturing into different professions, making a meaningful difference in this country. We have produced musicians, champion boxers, farmers, graduates and entrepreneurs. The list is endless.

The partnership between the Department of Correctional Services and 67 Blankets has registered a number of accolades which include the world’s biggest blanket (made in 2016), as certified by Guinness World Records.

Mandela Foundation approves blanket project

Yase Godlo from the Nelson Mandela Foundation said the knitting project was one of the best ways to pay tribute to Madiba.

Madiba’s widow Graca Machel reminded those at the unveiling that one does not need to be in a high position to make a difference in someone’s life.

We need heroes and heroines to help the poor. By knitting these blankets, we are knitting someone’s life together, she said.

Buti Baloyi, an inmate who participated in the project, told SAnews that knitting benefitted his frame of mind.

Taking part in the project helped me to relieve the stress of being [in prison]. I am happy because I know I am doing this for a good cause, he said, adding that he has encouraged others to take part in the project.

Kagiso Dimpe, also an inmate, said he was initially reluctant to take part in the project.

However, as time went by, I developed passion and was encouraged by the fact that I knew I was doing this for the poor, Dimpe said.

Project manager Muzi Kunene, also an inmate, thanked all the department’s officials and inmates who took part in the project.

I am happy knowing that I’m now spending time on a good cause. Rehabilitation starts with you, he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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