The unveiling of a life-size statue of democratic South Africa’s founding father, Nelson Mandela, at the United Nations headquarters in New York will forever serve as a reminder of everything the exceptional statesman stood for.
“President Mandela firmly believed that the United Nations was the most valuable and effective instrument for the advancement of peace, development and equality that humanity had conceived.
“We trust that this statue will remain a constant reminder to the international community of the dedication of Nelson Mandela to the mission of the United Nations and a constant affirmation of South Africa’s commitment to contribute to a better world for all,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday at the occasion of the statue unveiling.
President Ramaphosa is in New York for the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). This is his inaugural participation in UNGA as Head of State and Government, where he will also outline South Africa’s domestic and foreign policy goals and priorities.
This year, the unveiling of the statue of President Mandela and the historic Nelson Mandela Peace Summit -- a high-level plenary meeting convened by the President of the General Assembly, Maria Espinosa, in honour of the centenary of the birth of South Africa’s first democratically elected President – preceding the UN General Debate.
President Ramaphosa said he was encouraged by how the rest of the world has embraced the celebration of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, something he said was “truly humbling”.
“For those of us gathered here at the United Nations, Nelson Mandela will forever hold a special place in our hearts because of his dedication to the service of humanity and the promotion of peace throughout the world.
“The people of our country, united in their diversity, revere Nelson Mandela as the founding father of our democratic nation – whose life, sacrifices and extraordinary contribution to freedom continues to inspire successive generations.
“The values by which he lived and to which he dedicated his life are universal. We are honoured and grateful that the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit has been convened in his memory,” the President said.
He extended a word of deep gratitude to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who leads the institution that has been instrumental in driving change throughout the world, including in South Africa.
“We recall with great appreciation and gratitude the leading role of the United Nations in championing the struggle of the South African people against apartheid and in calling for the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners,” said the President, who presented Madiba’s statue on behalf of the government and people of South Africa.
UNGA will run until 27 September. – SAnews.gov.za