Nelson Mandela Day event hosts the High Commissioner of South Africa, Nelson Mandela Centre for Africa Culture Trust Fund & Ministry of Arts & Cultural Heritage
It is a great privilege for me to join you, this evening, to honour an extraordinary global leader, advocate, and role model - Nelson Mandela. Each year, on the 18th of July, we pay tribute to this extraordinary man and reflect on his life and legacy. The International Day, established in November 2009, celebrates Mandela’s values and dedication to conflict resolution, race relations, human rights, reconciliation, gender equality, the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the fight against poverty and the promotion of social justice.
Personally, he has been a constant source of inspiration. In fact growing up I knew Nelson Mandela as a legend and would encourage everyone to remember him by making a difference to your community, everyone has the ability and responsibility to change the world for the better. Today’s remembrance is an occasion for all to take action and inspire change. Whoever has had the opportunity to visit Madiba’s cell at Robben Island, and to look through the bars, would be most humbled by the mental strength and courage of this man who spent 27 years in prison, but never allowed this experience to define him or his life. He lost his son and mother while in prison. He could not be a father to his children, nor a husband to his wife but he remained strong and continued to have faith. As we know he dedicated his life to serving humanity- as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience an international peace maker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa. As students he inspired me and many Rwandese during the liberation struggle for our mother land Rwanda and our struggle to stop the Genocide. I know he inspired many more Africans to self-determination and his memory is still inspiring more you people today. His legacy will live for ever.
As we strive to recover from the pandemic and build a more inclusive, resilient, and green world now more than ever the global community should be inspired by his legacy as we embark on a long and tenuous journey to reverse the punishing pandemic impacts and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Message of the UN Secretary-General
Allow me, Ladies and Gentlemen to share with you the message of the UN Secretary-General on Nelson Mandela Day. I quote:
Today, the world honours a giant of our time; a leader of unparalleled courage and towering achievement; and a man of quiet dignity and deep humanity.
Nelson Mandela was a healer of communities and a mentor to generations.
He remains a moral compass and reference to us all.
Madiba walked the path to freedom and dignity with steely determination – and with compassion and love.
He showed that each and every one of us has the ability – and responsibility – to build a better future for all.
Our world today is marred by war; overwhelmed by emergencies; blighted by racism, discrimination, poverty, and inequalities; and threatened by climate disaster.
Let us find hope in Nelson Mandela’s example and inspiration in his vision.
Today and every day, let us honour Nelson Mandela’s legacy by taking action.
By speaking out against hate and standing up for human rights.
By embracing our common humanity – rich in diversity, equal in dignity, united in solidarity.
And by together making our world more just, compassionate, prosperous, and sustainable for all.
This is a call to action for us all in the global community to stand up for humanity and speak out against hate. We at the UN in Mauritius value our partnership with all our development partners in Mauritius. We recognize the strength of such partnership in addressing issues such as racism, discrimination, poverty, inequalities, and the climate crisis.
A peaceful world where people, nature, and economies can all thrive — is a vision that may take work but is worth the effort. We all need to come together. Each one of us has a role to play, “as partners and agents of change”. Rest assured the UN will continue to support the legacy and vision of Nelson Mandela as we strive to achieve the 5 P’s that shape the Sustainable Development Goals for “People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnerships.
I cannot end my speech these days without appealing to the youth. They must learn from Mandela. They are the leaders of today and tomorrow and our future is in their hands!
I thank you for your kind attention. Happy Mandela Day!