By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
One hundred years after his birth in the tiny village of Mvezo, the Rainbow Nation of South Africa paid tribute to the life and legacy of its heroic anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president, Nelson Mandela, on Wednesday, July 18, with corresponding homages to his ideals and accomplishments conducted throughout the world.
Here in Mexico, that embassy’s acting Chargé d’Affaires Anthea Joubert marked the momentous centennial with a lavish sit-down dinner and live performance of South African dance and music for more than 500 guests at Mexico City’s Club de Golf de Bosque de las Lomas.
The gala event, which was attended by both international diplomats and members of Mexico’s business, political and cultural communities, also served to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of formal bilateral relations and to belatedly mark South Africa’s 22nd Freedom Day, the country’s official national holiday.
The tribute to the late Mandela, who spent more than 27 years in prison because of his democratic values and who later went on to serve as his country’s first democratically elected president in a fully representative election, served also as an opportunity to reflect on the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s legacy as a humanitarian and international role model,
“By rejecting conflict and choosing instead a path of nonviolence, Mandela was able to change a nation, as well as the entire world,” Joubert said during a brief speech at the start of the event.
She added that Mandela was the epitome of selfless and fearless dedication to the cause of freedom in a defiant campaign of nonviolence.
“Mandela stood his ground and showed leadership in peaceful negotiations and an unflinching commitment to a policy focused on unity and reconciliation,” Joubert said.
The dinner also included a presentation of an original work of art by the South African artist previously known as Colette-Louise Wall, who now goes by the name of Nisaa Wall, and a moving tribute by Giancarlo Summa, director of the United Nations Center of Information for Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
Mandela was imprisoned under apartheid rule in 1962 and only freed in 1990, when he went on to lead the African National Congress party to victory in the first multi-race elections in 1994.
He served one term as president before stepping down in 1999.