South Africa has welcomed the unveiling of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela's first statue in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
"The South African Embassy initiated this project with the aim of preserving the legacy of Nelson Mandela and celebrating his life dedicated to a cause, which made him a celebrated global statesman in the struggle for peace and equality," said a statement on the unveiling of the statue on Thursday.
"This historic event will also mark the important 30th anniversary of successful diplomatic relations between South Africa and Bulgaria, which have contributed to the development of both countries," it said.
Previous Bulgarian honours for Mandela included naming a street in Sofia after him.
The leader, who spent 27 years as a political prisoner of the white minority apartheid government before becoming president of South Africa, received national orders from Bulgaria twice. He was presented with the Georgi Dimitrov Order in 1986, which was the highest order under the previous dispensation in the Bulgaria, in absentia while he was still in prison; and the Stara Planina Order, which is the highest order under the present democratic dispensation in Bulgaria, in 2008.
The statue was created by South African sculptor, Zelda Stroud.
Besides statues in every major South African city, there are many statues of Mandela across the world, including at the UN.