UNESCO pays tribute to life and legacy of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela has passed away.  His success in bringing peace and reconciliation to South Africa plus his promotion of democracy and equality between people directly connect him to UNESCO’s mission and mandate.  In 1991, he won the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize from UNESCO and the Nobel Peace Prize two years later.  He was appointed a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 2005 in recognition of his extraordinary fight against apartheid in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison before becoming the first democratically-elected President of South Africa.  He died on 5th December, aged 95.

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, today paid tribute to former South African President. “Nelson Mandela was truly a giant among men,” Irina Bokova said. “He not only changed South Africa’s history, he changed the world and made it a better place. He taught us all a lesson on the power of peace and  reconciliation;  the importance of forgiveness  and respect for the dignity of each and every human being .

“UNESCO is proud and honoured to have counted Nelson Mandela  as a member of its family,” the Director-General said. “The greatest tribute we can pay him, is to carry on his message of hope and  to continue his fierce defense of the values he stood for.”  

“My thoughts go out to his family, and indeed to all of the people of South Africa, who are mourning his passing.“

Irina Bokova will be attending the state funeral of Mandela on 10 December 2013 in Johannesburg.

Forest Whitaker statement on Nelson Mandela

Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

© UNESCO/Ania Freindorf -
Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

"I am deeply saddened today by the loss of one of the world’s greatest souls. Nelson Mandela was a man who unified the world with his convictions and grace. He cultivated human dignity while moving a nation from the shackles of apartheid to reconciliation. He defended tirelessly and with passion human rights and, through love, nurtured humanity's hopes and dreams.

Madiba was an elevated being who taught us that from forgiveness can spring new life, a new country, and a new world.

I walk on the strength of his ideals and I am inspired by his courage and convictions to always believe in the light that exists in all of us.

His legacy will live onward in the spirit of every human being who believes that all deserve the right to live a life where food and shelter exist, where freedom belongs to  everyone,  and all are given the opportunity  to fully pursue their hopes and dreams. 

We are blessed that he lived among us!"

In the cinema: "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom"

Nelson Mandela, the first President of South Africa elected by universal suffrage (1994), is certainly one of the greatest and most inspirational political leaders of our times. In 1991, he received the UNESCO Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, which he shared with South African President de Frederik W. Klerk. In 1993 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Later, Nelson Mandela became a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in recognition of his struggle against apartheid and racial discrimination worldwide. His commitment for reconciliation among communities, for the promotion of democracy and equality connect his life’s work to UNESCO’s mandate to promote peace through education, science and culture.

This is why, UNESCO is proud to support and be associated with the screening of the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, in France on 18 December 2013.

Read the article published in "Le Nouvel Observateur"

Watch the film's trailer: http://j.mp/mandela-lefilm.

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