Pictured from left to right: Shaun Johnson, Founding Executive Director of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation; HRH Princess Zenani Dlamini Mandela, South African High Commissioner to Seychelles; and Jean-Paul Adam, Republic of Seychelles Minister of Health. Credit: Eke Walker
Today our Founding Executive Director Shaun Johnson attended the unveiling of a statue of our patron Nelson Mandela in Victoria, Seychelles. The event was a symbolic one, taking place on the 10th International Nelson Mandela Day, adopted by the United Nations on Madiba’s birthday. Johnson attended representing several of the Mandela legacy organisations: the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the MRF.
The statue was unveiled by President Danny Faure and HRH Princess Zenani Mandela Dlamini, daughter of Nelson Mandela and High Commissioner of South Africa to Seychelles.
The two metre tall bronze statue was created by the acclaimed South African sculptor Jean Doyle. It is symbolic of the legacy that Nelson Mandela left behind in his contribution to democracy, equality, and his inspiration to all who opposed oppression and deprivation.
The ceremony which took place at the Peace Park, in Victoria, saw the attendance of many high ranking officials. A special acknowledgement was given to the key dignitaries from South Africa who were in attendance, namely HRH, Mr. K.E Mahoi, the Director General of the Department of Foreign Affairs of South Africa and his delegation.
The guest of honour, HRH Princess Zenani Mandela Dlamini, delivered a touching tribute to her father. “Today, the people of this beautiful island nation join all South Africans, and the rest of the world in commemorating the Nelson Mandela International Day. It is therefore a proud moment for me today to join you for this auspicious occasion, on the grounds where two giants (referring also to Sir James Mancham statue) of our great nations now stand,” she said.
The Princess added “Today’s event is a culmination of the 100th Year Anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela as well as the Silver Jubilee for the relations between South Africa and Seychelles. Allow me, to take this opportunity during this important occasion to re-affirm South Africa’s commitment to bonds between our two countries.”
“South Africans believe that we are blessed to have an icon like Mandela. The whole world is blessed to share Mandela with us. Let’s continue to preserve the name of Nelson Mandela and his legacy. Let his legacy live-on for thousands of years to come” concluded HRH.
During a brief interlude, the Mahé Chamber Choir entertained the crowd with a beautiful medley of South African music, which included the famous ‘Asimbonanga’ composed by the recently deceased Johnny Clegg, in honour of Madiba.
Vice President Meriton followed with a very fitting and personal homage as he recalled his teenage years “growing up being very much aware of the Apartheid regime in South Africa and of Nelson Mandela, the freedom fighter, the larger than life figure and his struggles for the freedom of his people.”
The Vice President went on to highlight the core attributes that made Mandela his personal hero and how “Mandela’s ‘moral courage’ became an inspiration to the world, signifying the yearning for justice, for freedom and liberty.”
“As an African nation, we too have gone through periods of racial inequality and have struggled to attain equal rights for all our citizens. I believe our past leaders were also inspired by Mandela and persevered in their quest for a Seychelles not divided in its racial/ethnic differences but rather to be a unified nation,” added Meriton.