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South African High Commission in Colombo Celebrates Nelson Mandela Day

18 July 2018

By Srimal Fernando, Global Editor, The Diplomatic Society

1994 was a year of big stories for the world.  Perhaps the story that had made the biggest impact was Nelson Mandela becoming the first democratically elected president in post anti-apartheid South Africa. 

Photo: South African High Commissioner H.E Robina Marks and Deputy Head of Mission Mr Johannes van Niekerk at the floral tribute

In his inaugural speech, Mandela stated, “the time for the healing of the wounds has come”.  Over the past twenty four years Mandela’s legacy has made a world of difference. Every year on 18 July, the day Nelson Mandela was born, Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated across the world.

This year marks 100 years since the birth of South African icon Nelson Mandela. To  mark this milestone birth centenary, the  South  African  High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka organized a floral tribute and a Freedom walk led by South African High Commissioner Robina Marks and the South African Cricket Team at the Colombo  Independence Memorial Monument.

Speaking on the occasion High Commissioner Robina Marks stated,“ Had Mandela been alive today, he would’ve been proud to see how we have made his non-racial dream a reality. And so we have continued Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to freedom, inspired by his values and his vision. This centenary year occurs almost 5 years since the sad passing of this great man. Today therefore marks his passing with sadness, but also with a renewed sense of commitment to continue his legacy of peace and reconciliation in our homes, communities, cities and countries.”

Tributes poured in for the much-loved leader from Sri Lankan senior political figures to school children. Over one hundred high and middle  school students representing Colombo Schools joined Mandela centenary celebrations at the Independence Memorial Monument. The    Mandela International Day in Colombo unfolded with its customary formality with laying a floral tribute in front of Mandela,s  portrait and the occasion was  graced by a small service with short prayers by the inter Religious Peace foundation.

Thereafter the Resident UN Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Mr. Terrence Jones, delivered a message from the UN Secretary General Guterres. This was followed by an important message from Former President of Sri Lanka Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. In her   statement  Madam Kumaratunga said, “Mandela’s legacy has inspired not only South African society damaged by Apartheid, but also every mass movement around the globe that fought for human freedom and dignity by celebrating ethnic diversity as a virtue that helps override the challenges.”
Photo1: South African Cricket team with school children Photo 2:Srimal Fernando with South African Cricket Captain Faf du Plessis

The birth anniversary brought together people from different walks of life to honor and pay tribute to the great leader.  The birth centenary occasion organized by the South African High Commission in Colombo gave participants a sense of strength and an unforgettable experience. As a mark of respect the South African cricketing team led by captain Faf du Plessis paid a glowing tribute to Mandela.

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) came into existence in 1995 as a result of the promotion of national unity and reconciliation act no 34. To heal the wounds of the past, Mandela set up the South African Commission of Truth and Reconciliation (TRC). Touching upon the importance of Mandela’s legacy ,  Sri Lankan  State  Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Vasantha Senanayake said, “ The truth  and  reconciliation  commission set up  in South Africa under president Mendela ‘s guidance  was a great stepping stone  in the direction  of reparations  and rehabilitation  as much  as bringing closure  to the victims. Sri Lanka too could have built on a similar model in dealing with post conflict issues that have arisen in this country”.

On this day as the world celebrates the 100th birth anniversary of Mandela, his legacy continues to inspire global peacemaking efforts.

Srimal Fernando is a research scholar at Jindal School of International Affair (JSIA) s, India and an editor of Diplomatic Society for South Africa



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