On December 5, 2013, the world lost a tremendous champion and global leader, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. He was the embodiment of equality, human rights, harmony and advocating for social and political change that ensured every single human being, irrespective of the colour of their skin, had the exact same rights, freedoms and awarded similar opportunities as another to progress to a life of one’s own choosing. Mr. Mandela fought for such ideals during a time when people with different skin colours were not seen as equal. Under the South African government’s Apartheid regime, a system of racial segregation was implemented, whereby the rights of Black South Africans were deemed less significant than those of a White South African minority.
South Africans were classified into four groups: black, white, coloured and Indian, the latter two, which were further divided into numerous categories. As a result, millions of non-white South Africans lost a great deal of their rights and freedoms: citizenship, education, medical care, public services, employment, residence and recreational areas were allocated primarily to white South Africans, while blacks and other races were given services that were inferior to the minority rule. Mr. Mandela during this time advocated against apartheid. He was arrested and imprisoned for 27 years for his opposition to the rule, however, his fight for equality never ceased and worldwide many people and nations joined and supported his cause. On February 11, 1990, he was released from prison after the end of the apartheid regime. He became the first black South African President in 1994 and led the transformation from apartheid to a multicultural, democratic and unified nation. What is remarkable is that he led a path of reconciliation as opposed to revenge, and therein demonstrated to the world how peace and harmony can be attained amidst conflict.
The work and sacrifices of Mr. Mandela are applauded and remembered by the United Nations Association of Toronto, (UNACTO), and in accordance with the United Nations and the United Nations Association of Canada, the ideals of equality, democracy, learning, human rights and peace are what we strive to maintain and uphold. Through various events and campaigns, we build and advocate for social awareness locally, nationally and around the world. We encourage dialogue and discussion and provide forums for Torontonians to have their voices heard and help our mandate to ensure this is a safer and better world to live in. History has shown us how one person’s conviction for equality and freedom can overcome an oppressive regime. Mr. Mandela has been an inspiration to many, and reminds us that even through collaboration, education and advocacy, society can change, we still however, have a long road ahead to ensure humanity remains preserved.
Thank you Mr. Mandela for your work and our sincerest condolences to his loved ones.
VP & Governance
Dhanota, A. (2013). A tribute to Nelson Mandela, United Nations Association of Canada, Toronto Region, December 24, 2013. Available from http://www.unacto.com/#!articles/c2011.
Mandela, N. (2010). Conversations With Myself. Auckland: PQ Blackwell.
Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory (2014). “The Life and Times of Nelson Mandela.” Retrieved December 23, 2013 from http://www.nelsonmandela.org/content/page/biography.