‘A history of violence, injustice and pain surprisingly produced a leader of peace’. This was how former President Jerry John Rawlings payed glowing tribute to Nelson Mandela, a global icon whose steadfastness in the pursuit of justice and equality, engineered the United Nations in 2009, to institute Mandela International Day on July 18, his birthdate.
Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world, the ability to make an impact.
Hosting Mandela’s centennial event at his Office in Accra, the former Ghanaian leader said the Nelson he knew personally was sharp, witty and possessed an extraordinary sense of infectious humour. Rawlings said Nelson Mandela immortalized all the ideals that he stoutly stood for and defended his whole life with.
“Apart from the exceptionally obvious example that he was a man, freedom fighter, President and world icon, Mandela personified the character, responsibility and power of youth: single-minded, focused, fearless passion and conviction. He cultivated an inner-strength that dared to make things happen”, Rawlings observed.
The former President said it is easy to relate Mandela and the anti-apartheid struggle to the June 4 popular uprising and the quest for truth and integrity. “The exceptional success of June 4 was due to the popularity of the cause and the quest to free Ghana from the oppression of the corrupt few”, he added.
The event was sponsored by Water for Rural Africa, an NGO, UN Youth Ghana, Youth and Students for Peace and participation from the Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Center together with visitors from Benin and Congo.
Stephen King, President of Youth and Students for Peace that has representation in 142 countries around the world, spoke on the plight of English-speaking Cameroonians ever since the colonial experiment of forming a nation out of French and English speaking peoples came to a head on October 1, 2017 when the marginalized English speaking Cameroonians asked for independence.
He used the occasion to appeal to the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) to mediate and halt the violence being perpetuated. He described the situation there as a test of democracy on the continent and declared that all vestiges of colonialism must be eradicated from the continent of Africa.
A former Secretary to ex-President John Mahama, Raymond Atuguba, in introducing the President Rawlings observed that the search for truth and justice unites Mandela and JJ. A ceremonial cake was cut to mark Mandela’s centennial after the ex-President gave insights of his personal experience with Mandela.