Accra – Ghana marked the first Nelson Mandela International Day for Freedom, Justice and Democracy with poetry recitals and reading of excerpts from Mr. Mandela’s famous speeches, traditional dance and music, photo-exhibition on the life of Mr. Mandela, the screening of the film “INVICTUS,” and radio and TV discussions.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration led the celebration with the active support of the Ministry of Information, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, the UN system, the State Protocol Department, National Security and the UN Information Centre.
Ghana’s Vice President, H. E. John Dramani Mahama’s keynote address was presented by the Deputy Foreign Minister, Ambassador Chris Kpodo. The Vice President noted that for “Mr. Mandela to earn the accolade of a personality that embodies the United Nations highest values is a worthy testimony.” He described him as representing “victory for justice, peace and human dignity.”
He urged people all the world over to be inspired by the history of Mr. Mandela to reinforce their collective belief in “justice, and strengthen our confidence in the nobility of humanity.” It should also help them to “imbibe the virtues of remaining peaceful and seeking amicable solutions to problems that confront us, while eschewing beliefs and practices that sow the seeds of conflict, confusion, disaffection and destruction in our communities.”
The Vice President encouraged all to adopt principles that will help build bridges and forge durable partnerships towards the accomplishment of the common goals of peace, security and stability as important elements for the growth and prosperity of any nation.
Mr. Mahama recalled Mr. Mandela’s dedication to the service of humanity in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, stressing that they were worth emulating.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon’s message was delivered on behalf of the UN Resident Co-ordinator, Ms. Ruby Sandhu-Rojon by the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre, Mr. Abraham Nunoo.
The Secretary-General described Mr. Mandela as a “towering figure embodying the highest values of humanity and the United Nations. His life, his strength and his decency are an example to us all. He fought his oppressors for years and then forgave them,” he said.
Mr. Ban noted that even though an ordinary man, Mr. Mandela had achieved extraordinary things becoming an inspiration to millions of people around the world. He pointed out that Mr. Mandela’s sacrifices and achievements came at a great personal cost to himself and his family.
He said on the “first Nelson Mandela International Day, we thank him for whatever he has done for freedom, for justice and for democracy. He showed the way, he changed the world, we are profoundly grateful.”
On her part, the Charge d’ Affaires of the South African High Commission in Ghana, Ms. Anil von Maltitz said the celebration of the day was a “call to action for people everywhere to take responsibility for making the world a better place one step at a time.” It was also a “global celebration of the life, values, humanitarian efforts and ultimately, the legacy of Nelson Mandela.”
In her view, the Mandela Day was based on two fundamental concepts, first was that each person did his or her bit for social change and the second being that Mr. Mandela spent 67 years fighting for the rights of humanity and battling social injustice in his community, in his country and the world at large.
She called on people of all walks of life to devote 67 minutes of their time in a year to engage in community work aimed at changing the world for the better. As part of their community work, staff members of the South African High Commission on Sunday, 18th July 2010 painted the Baba Yara Primary School at Madina, a suburb of Accra.
Three members of the Ghana Association of Writers, led by its President, Professor Attuquaye Okine treated the audience to inspirational poems they have written purposely to honour Mr. Mandela. Prof. Attuquaye Okine’s poem was entitled the “Somersault of the Midnight: Nelson Mandela the African Warrior.” That of Ms. Ayoola Amale had the title, “You Are Not Too Small to Change the World,” while that of Mr. Aubrey Aidoo was “It is in Your Hands.” The three also read excerpts from Mr. Mandela’s famous speeches.
The “Abibigromma” Cultural Troupe entertained the gathering with compelling music and dance forms. At the programme the screening of the film INVICTUS was shortened with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation undertaking to screen the whole 2 hours 35 minutes documentary over the week-end which was done. It also played back the Friday evening’s programme on Sunday, 18th July 2010 at 15hrs.
The United Nations Information Centre mounted a photo-exhibition on the life of Mr. Mandela at the entrance of the auditorium. Attendance at the programme was appreciable and it included Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, members of the diplomatic corps, students from five Senior High Schools, members of non-governmental organizations, the media and the general public.