Freedom Day was marked a day early in New York City with South African diplomats expressing their appreciation for the support the international community played in defeating Apartheid and for their continued support during the last 24 years of democracy.
Around 200 people gathered to mark the day under the theme “The year of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: towards the full realisation of our freedom through radical socio-economic transformation”.
Special Envoy for the International Relations Minister, Aziz Pahad was the keynote speaker.
Pahad says, “As we remember the selfless sacrifices of the countless heroes and heroines of our struggle who fought tirelessly to overcome the brutal apartheid system through selfless dedication, they left an indelible mark on our society having laid the foundation for a united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society. The legacy of the values of Nelson Mandela, including peace, justice and freedom of expression continue to live on through these ideals in our constitution.”
He also used the occasion to promote South Africa bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council and invoked Madiba’s legacy in the future work of the global organisation.
Pahad says, “We would also like to express our gratitude to the member states of the General Assembly for the convening of the Nelson Mandela peace summit which will take place on the eve of the opening of the 73rd session of the general debate in September. The peace summit will focus on global peace in honour of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela.”
The United Nations (UN) called it a day to recognize the achievements of South Africa’s first black President.
The UN Secretary General’s Chief of Staff, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti says, “Freedom day is rightly a joyous celebration marking South Africa’s triumph over Apartheid and the extension of voting rights to millions of people who had been disenfranchised solely because of the colour of their skin. This is day is also a moment to recognize the achievements of Nelson Mandela and all those who stood with him. Madiba is in our memories and our hearts at all times.”
Another highlight was the presence of South Africa’s Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters.
Nel-Peters says, “As the first born free Miss SA, freedom day has always been a very special day to me. I’m happy to be a part of a generation whose responsibility it is to make sure that we keep moving and working forward together. As Miss Universe and as an Ambassador for our beautiful rainbow nation, it is the biggest honour for me to represent our beautiful and one of a kind country all over the world. And to leave footprints wherever I go to show the world what young South Africans are truly made of.”