South Africa Partners Celebrates Mandela Day at the Massachusetts State House
July 18, 2019 - South Africa Partners, in partnership with Bridgewater State University and Senator Jason Lewis, hosted the annual Mandela Day celebration at the Massachusetts State House. Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated each year on Nelson Mandela’s birthday, to commemorate his commitment to fighting for human rights and his lifetime of service to others. Senator Lewis and State Representatives Nika Elugardo, Chynah Tyler and Liz Miranda spoke about Mandela and how his legacy and message inspired the civil rights and other social justice movements in the United States. They also touched on how they draw from Mandela’s values and his lifetime commitment of service for their own service as elected representatives to the state of Massachusetts.
Members of the Mandela Memorial Commission, Jackie Jenkins-Scott and Geoff Norman also reflected on Mandela’s visit to the city of Boston in June of 1990 and updated the public on the Commission’s recommendations for a memorial in Boston to commemorate Madiba’s historic visit. The commission has formed a consensus that any memorial should encompass all three sites Mandela visited in his public tour of Boston and that it should reaffirm our continued desire to offer an environment that fosters equality, tolerance and a determination to see justice prevail. The Mandela Memorial Commission will soon deliver its report to the Governor, the legislative body, and the Mayor of Boston.
The ceremony also featured remarks from two Bridgewater State University Mandela Fellows, Nomonde Ndwalaza and Zikhona Miso. Nomonde Ndwalaza is a media professional with experience in both television and radio broadcasting. She uses her position to bring awareness to problems facing young disadvantaged women in South Africa. Ndwalaza’s speech at the Mandela ceremony spoke to her experience as a “born-free” black woman in South Africa and while she does not a have lived experience of apartheid, there is a generational trauma that she has inherited. She also explained that many South Africans are critical of Mandela because of the slow pace of transformation since the formation of the new government in 1994. However, she stresses that while many are dissatisfied with the new government’s progress, understanding Mandela and his peers in all their complexity is essential in educating oneself to shape a more globally just world.
Zikhona Miso is a current affairs presenter and producer at the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s international radio station ‘Channel Africa’. Miso’s speech reflected on Mandela’s traits of courage, strength resilience wisdom brilliance and humility. She spoke about how these traits and the work of the apartheid activist leaders such as Mandela, Steve Biko, Oliver Tambo and Winnie Mandela inspire her to continue their legacy and fight for equality. She does this through her work in media to facilitate intergenerational conversations to further progress in South Africa. Miso also touched upon the inspiring work her Mandela Fellow peers are also doing as changemakers to build the world the Mandela envisioned.
The ceremony also featured traditional South African music was also performed by Neo Gcabo, a South African R&B and neo-soul vocalist and arts administrator from Pretoria. She is also a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music here in Boston. South Africa Partners is grateful to all who joined us to remember Mandela on the anniversary of his birthday and draw on his inspiration for young leaders to continue to strive for a just society.