The elimination of all forms of discrimination, including South Africa’s system of legalized racial discrimination known as apartheid, was a priority for the United Nations since its inception.
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”, said Madiba, thus, becoming an advocate for equality all over the world. He became the determined champion of a democratic South Africa, free from racial discrimination, thus forwarding the UN values of peace and equality.
Few world leaders in history epitomize freedom as strongly as Madiba. Nelson Mandela is known globally as one of the world’s most famous peacemakers. He was a great statesman and an inspiration to millions.
Nelson Mandela International Day commemorates the lifetime of service he gave to South Africa and to the world.
Mandela Day 2021 marked 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela. The Centenary is an occasion to reflect on his life and legacy, and reiterate Mandela’s call to action. This year, a commemoration ceremony organized jointly by The Working Group on Alternative Strategies, Gandhi Yuva Baradari, the India International Centre and UNIC New Delhi saw enthusiastic participation from more than 350 students from 30 schools across North India. Performances by school choirs at the iconic Gandhi King Plaza set the mood for the event and reminded everybody of the commonality and significance of the struggles of 2 great leaders, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Students marched in unison around the periphery of IIC carrying a banner made by tribal artists from Jharkhand with a touching message, “MADIBA TUJHE SALAAM” (We salute you Madiba).
Suhas Borker, Convenor of the Working Group on Alternative Strategies, opened the session by recounting Nelson Mandela body of work for equality and justice. Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee very eloquently shared his thoughts on how Madiba’s vision resonated with people around the world.
“Madiba devoted his life to overturning the injustices of institutionalized racism. He risked execution and endured years of imprisonment for his beliefs. He may have lost his freedom but he never allowed the authorities to strip him off his self respect and dignity. This is the man we remember. Today let us commit to build on Nelson Mandela’s example of selflessness, tolerance and a sense of shared purpose.”, UNIC Director Derk Segaar said in his address.
This was followed by an interactive Q & A session where Ambassador Mukherjee and H.E. Dr. Hlamalani Nelly Manzini, High Commissioner of South Africa addressed some questions from the audience. The best student speakers were awarded with a copy of the UN-India 70 book.
Nelson Mandela made an impact fighting for human rights in his country, as well as globally. His life has been an inspiration to the world at large and we must remind ourselves to think more like Mandela and let his principles live on through our actions.