Walking around the beautifully made Voting Line sculpture at the Donkin Reserve in Port Elizabeth, you get the true sense of the Rainbow Nation of South Africa. The metal figures represent all the communities who share the land – and who voted peacefully on 27 April 1994.

Did you know?

Voting Line is part of the Route 67 Public Art Works project in Port Elizabeth.

South Africans who voted in the historic elections of 27 April 1994 will tell you all about the joy of casting a democratic ballot on that day.

On this momentous occasion – while the world held its collective breath – all former differences were cast aside as South Africans lined up in many genial rows to vote. And the man who became our first democratic president was none other than Nelson Mandela.

When you walk around the base of the giant sculpture at the Donkin Reserve in central Port Elizabeth, you find yourself almost being part of one of those legendary voting queues.

It's a 38m-long metal sculpture of South Africans – of all shapes and sizes – connected together to make what is simply entitled Voting Line. To give it that distinct coastal flavour, there are even a couple of black metal seagulls hovering about the voters' heads. At the end of the queue is a metal cut-out of Nelson Mandela standing tall and victorious, his fist in the air.

This unusual tribute to South Africans and their charismatic talisman is but one of a number of artworks recently set up at the Donkin Reserve as part of the Mandela Bay Development Agency's (MBDA) urban revitalisation project.

The Mandela figure is actually the new logo for the Nelson Mandela Foundation's Madiba Trust, who gave permission to the MBDA for the Voting Line artists, Anthony Harris and Konrad Geel, to incorporate it into their work.

The Donkin Reserve is a public park proclaimed by the founder of Port Elizabeth, Sir Rufane Donkin. Besides the new artworks spread about the park, the most remarkable item is the Donkin Memorial, opposite the lighthouse. It's a pyramid-shaped structure built in honour of Donkin's wife, Elizabeth. He loved her so much he named the city after her.

The Voting Line sculpture now completes the historical timeline of Port Elizabeth, with the Donkin Reserve celebrating both the founding of the city and the founding of a new South Africa.

It also forms part of the MBDA's Route 67 initiative, a public display of 67 pieces of art celebrating each year that Nelson Mandela gave to public life and the people of South Africa.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Mandela Bay Development Agency
Tel: +27 (0)41 811 8200
Email: info@mbda.co.za

Alan Tours
Tel: +27 (0) 41 466 8596
Cell: +27 (0) 72 358 4634
Email: info@alantours.co.za

King Edward Hotel
Tel: +27 (0) 41 586 2056
Email: res@kingedwardhotel.co.za

How to get here

The Donkin Reserve lies in the Central District of Port Elizabeth, surrounded by many historic city sights.

Best time to visit

You should visit the Donkin Reserve on a sunny day, so that the colours of the artworks and the mosaics in particular stand out in your photographs.

Around the area

You can embark on day drives to Addo, coastal meanders up Route 72 or down the N2 to special seaside resorts like Jeffreys Bay and Plettenberg Bay.

Tours to do

A city tour with Alan Tours.

Get around

The Donkin Reserve is a walk-about experience. There is public parking with good security at Belmont Terrace above the Donkin Memorial.

What will it cost

It's an outdoor exhibition in a public space - there are no charges.

Length of stay

Because of all the other artworks on display, it's worth spending at least an hour at the site.

Where to stay

The King Edward Hotel stands right opposite the Donkin Reserve and is a heritage site in its own right.

What to eat

When in Port Elizabeth, indulge in seafood. The Central - Richmond Hill area has many restaurants and coffee bars that offer a range of dishes.

What's happening

Port Elizabeth is a city of festivals and sports occasions. Check the Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism website for events taking place during your stay.

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