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Guterres hails healer and ‘mentor to generations’, Nelson Mandela


Nelson Mandela addresses the UN General Assembly in September 2004.

The UN chief in his message to mark Monday’s International Day in honour of Nelson Mandela, hailed the first Black President of post-Apartheid South Africa and racial justice icon, “a giant of our time”, who remains a “moral compass” for us all.

Secretary-General António Guterres described the champion of a free and democratic South Africa who spent nearly three decades in prison resisting the racist Apartheid regime, as “a leader of unparalleled courage and towering achievement; and a man of quiet dignity and deep humanity.”

Nelson Mandela – or Madiba, the clan name he’s affectionately known by at home – was a “healer of communities and a mentor to generations”, said Mr. Guterres, who “walked the path to freedom and dignity with steely determination – and with compassion and love.”

He demonstrated through his life that everyone has the ability – and responsibility – to build a better future, added the UN chief.

Guterres hails healer and ‘mentor to generations’, Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela (left), President of South Africa, enters the General Assembly Hall to address its fifty-third session. At his side is United Nations Chief of Protocol, Nadia Younes, 21 September 1998

Finding hope

“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.”

The best way to honour his legacy, is by taking action, Mr. Guterres said in his video message. Amid a rising in hate speech around the world, everyone has the duty to speak out, and stand up for human rights, “by embracing our common humanity – rich in diversity, equal in dignity, united in solidarity.”

Together and by following Madiba’s example, we can make our world, “more just, compassionate, prosperous, and sustainable for all”, The Secretary-General concluded.

Guterres hails healer and ‘mentor to generations’, Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, addresses a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York in December 1991.

Special event in New York

Under the theme of taking action and inspiring change, the International Day will be celebrated through a special event at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday, where Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and President of the General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, are also due to deliver remarks.

You can follow it all live on UN Web TV, beginning at 10am Eastern Standard Time.

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