Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture

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12th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: 09 August 2014

The 12th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture was delivered by the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet.The lecture was held at the City Hall in the City of Cape Town, the very venue where he made his first speech as a free man following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, and as President a little over four years later.

This event marked the 52nd anniversary of Mandela’s capture on 5 August 1962, which led to his imprisonment of 27 years. The talk also fell on National Women’s Day, an important date that marks the anniversary of the 1956 Women’s March to Pretoria, in protest against the then-government’s pass laws.

The theme of the 2014 lecture was Building social cohesion through active citizenship.


11th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: 17 August 2013

The elelenth Annual Lecture was delivered by a business man, academic, global philanthropist founder and Chair of Mo Ibrahim Foundation , Dr Mo Ibrahim.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was established in 2006 to support good governance and exceptional leadership on the African continent.
Sudanese-born, Dr. Ibrahim is a global expert in mobile communications with a distinguished business career.

He founded Celtel International, one of Africa’s leading mobile telephone companies.

The venue for the 11th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture is the University of South Africa which this year celebrates its 140th birthday.
Mandela spent much of his 27 years in prison studying law with Unisa and on 17 May 1989, while he was incarcerated at Victor Verster Prison, he graduated in absentia with an LLB from this institution. This year the lecture will focus on Building Social Cohesion.

To read the full speech, click here .

Wednesday 6 August 2014 10:54


10th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: 05 August 2012

The tenth Annual Lecture was delivered by Mary Robinson, a former Irish president and renowned human rights activist.

She served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002. She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish Senate (1969–1989).

She defeated Fianna Fáil’s Brian Lenihan and Fine Gael’s Austin Currie in the 1990 presidential election becoming, as an Independent candidate nominated by the Labour Party, the Workers’ Party and independent senators, the first elected president in the office’s history not to have had the support of Fianna Fáil.

To read the full speech, click here.

9th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: 23 July 2011

The ninth Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture was delivered by Dr Ismail Serageldin from Egypt. He is hailed as a pioneer in the movement to re-establish the importance of science in the Arab and Muslim world. He is also acclaimed for applying science to many types of global problems and for combating poverty in developing countries through the use of sustainable agriculture. The themes Dr Serageldin will focus on are diversity, cohesion and social justice.

To read the full speech, click here.


8th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: 31 July 2010

The eighth Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture was delivered by Ariel Dorfman, who is also a member of L’Académie Universelle des Cultures, in Paris and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, on 31 July in Johannesburg.

He spoke on the theme “Memory and Justice”. Achmat Dangor, Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation said that Dorfman’s life and work spoke to what the Nelson Mandela Foundation was doing through the Centre for Memory and Dialogue.

To read the full speech, click here.


7th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: 11 July 2009

The seventh Annual Lecture in 2009 was delivered by Professor Muhammad Yunus on Saturday July 11 at the Johannesburg City Hall.

The founder and managing director of Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. He spoke under the theme: “Eradicating Poverty by investment in the marginalised as a way of creating wealth and combating poverty”.

To read the full speech, click here.


6th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: 12 July 2008

The sixth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture took place at the Walter Sisulu Square, Kliptown, Soweto on Saturday 12 July 2008 and was delivered by the President of the Republic of Liberia Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf stressed the importance of transparent, accountable government and the need to fight corruption in Africa.

“Africa is not poor, but poorly managed,” she said, but encouraged the audience of hundreds of invited guests to be positive about the continent’s future. But, she said, there was no stopping the African Renaissance.

“The new Africa is at hand!” she said.

To read the full speech, click here.


5th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: 22 July 2007

The fifth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture took place at the Linder Auditorium in Parktown, Johannesburg on Sunday 22 July 2007 and was delivered by nobel Laureate and former UN Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan.

Annan’s lecture focused on Africa’s progress, saying it needed to be balanced on three pillars: security, development and human rights.

Annan told an invited audience of about 1500 people that while significant progress had been made in African in relation to all three of these pillars, much still needed to be done.

“We have achieved positive changes in several areas” relating to peace and security, development and human rights, Mr Annan said. “We are not excelling, but we are advancing.” He noted improvement in primary school enrollment, particularly of girls, in Africa, that there had been progress in fighting HIV/AIDS, and that there was progress in reducing maternal mortality and the delivery of clean water, among other things.

“Africa’s development denies the notion of a sea of undifferentiated poverty,” said Mr Annan.

He noted, however, that more than 300-million people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1 a day, and are “starved not only for food, but for opportunity and hope”.

Mr Annan was critical of the imbalances of globalisation, and said that the world’s rich needed to help the poor, because “If some of us are poor, we are all poorer.”
He further pointed out: “We live in an era of inter-dependence … [which] in some ways is more obvious in Africa than anywhere else,” he said.

To read the full speech, click here.


4th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: 29 July 2006

The fourth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture took place at the WITS Great Hall in Braamfontein, Johannesburg and was delivered by the former President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki spoke out unequivocally against market fundamentalism and the unbridled search for wealth, which, he said, underpinned South Africa today.

“And thus has it come about that many of us accept that our common, natural instinct to escape from poverty is but the other side of the same coin, on whose reverse side are written the words – at all costs, get rich!” Mbeki said.

To read the full speech, click here.


3rd Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: 19 July 2005

The third Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture took place at the Nelson Mandela Theatre in Braamfontein, Johannesburg and was delivered by Kenyan nobel laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai.

“Africa, rise up and walk!” Wangari Maathai’s call to the continent was greeted with ululations and a standing ovation at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre as the Kenyan Nobel laureate delivered the third annual Nelson Mandela lecture.

The energetic professor in Veterinary Science diagnosed an overwhelming debt burden as being at the root of “de-humanizing” poverty Africa and prescribed a two-fold treatment of debt relief and empowerment to ease the ailment. Addressing a panel that included Nelson Mandela himself, Bill Clinton, the former US president and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Maathai painted a solution to Africa’s problems that was almost elegant in its simplicity.

“G8 leaders have their doubts about African leadership and governance in Africa. Yet they know people in poor countries are being denied essential services in order for that debt to be serviced. When such countries are denied debt relief, it is the poor that suffer,” said Maathai, whose initiative to empower women through planting trees won her the coveted humanitarian award.

Dealing with the other side of the coin, Wangari called on African leaders to embrace the values of humility and selflessness that she said Mandela epitomized. “African leaders should serve for the benefit of the people, not themselves.

It is sad to see leaders assist the exploitation of their people. Because I’ve seen this, it’s difficult to dismiss the G8 leaders’ concerns.”

At the core of her lecture was a fervent message of empowerment and African pride. Wishing Mandela a happy birthday for 18 July, Maathai said what the continent needed most were people who were passionate about Africa. “We need people who love Africa, who will work so that others can have it better than they have.”

The Nobel laureate drew appreciative applause when she illustrated her message with a parable from the Bible that spoke of a crippled beggar who was made to walk after an inspirational meeting with disciples. “Friends and leaders of Africa should strive to empower her and not just give her alms,” she said, adding though that the story didn’t end there. “It was the beggar that had to stand up and do the walking, he was ready for it and his life changed for the better,” she said.

Tutu and Clinton who joined in for a panel discussion after her lecture echoed her message adding in pearls of their own. Tutu said that Africa’s salvation lay in the hands of women, “Women need to say to men: Look here, we have given you helluva long time and look at the mess you’ve made. Women, how about a revolution,” Tutu said.

Clinton said that while Africa was making strides, the continent’s leaders needed to look long and hard about their definition of democracy.

“Democracy is not just about majority rules, you have to make place for minorities as well. Part of the genius of Mandela,” he said, laying a hand on the old man’s arm, “Is that he didn’t just invite his warders to his inauguration. He invited his oppressors to be part of his government.

A merely clever politician would have just invited them to his inauguration, but he was saying to them: You have a place here. You belong,” Clinton said.

To read the full speech, click here.


2nd Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: 23 November 2004

The second Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture took place at the Nelson Mandela Theatre in Braamfontein, Johannesburg and was delivered by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Don’t sell South Africa short…
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu criticized South Africans who sell their country short, saying many seemed “embarrassed” by the nation’s successes.

“The result is that we have tended to be despondent, to seem to say, ‘Behind every ray of sunshine there must be an invisible cloud, just you wait long enough and it will soon appear”.

At the same time, he warned against “party line-toeing”, calling for open debate on the problems still facing the country.
Tutu said that the country – which he termed “Madibaland” – had come a long way and was now reaping a number of socio-economic and political fruits, and producing more heroes and heroines every day. This, he said, called for a celebration – but not for pessimistic South Africans.

“I think we should change our perspective”, Tutu said. “If we are forever looking at our shortcomings and our faults, then the mood will be pervasive and pessimistic and in a way we will provide the environment that encourages further failure.”
Tutu reminded his audience of apartheid’s draconian laws and the “scariest” moment, when the nation was on the brink of what he described as “comprehensive disaster, a bloody conflagration”.

“But it didn’t happen … We really have much to celebrate and much for which to be thankful”, he said, marveling at mixed-race couples who would once have been victimized by the police and the way the new society was reflected in the demographics of the school near his home.

The world was still mesmerized by the way in which South Africa had transformed itself from a brute regime to a constitutional democracy, Tutu said, adding that by working together, the country could become a huge success.

Tutu conceded that the country had problems, the most serious of which was HIV/Aids, and called for robust, open debate on such issues, saying: “The truth cannot suffer from being challenged and examined”.

“We should debate more openly, not using emotive language, issues such as affirmative action, transformation in sport, racism, xenophobia, security, crime, violence against women and children.

“It should be possible to talk as adults about these issues without engaging in slanging matches”, Tutu said. “My father used to say, ‘Don’t raise your voice; improve your argument’.

“We want our society to be characterized by vigorous debate and dissent, where to disagree is part and parcel of a vibrant community, that we should play the ball not the person, and not think that those who disagree, who express dissent, are ipso facto disloyal or unpatriotic.

“An unthinking, uncritical, party line-toeing is fatal to a vibrant democracy”, he warned. (Source: Bua News)

To read the full speech, click here.


1st Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: 19 July 2003

The Inaugural Lecture took place at the Nelson Mandela Theatre in Braamfontein, Johannesburg and was delivered by the forty-second President of the U.S.A, former President William Jefferson Clinton.

The best birthday gift for Nelson Mandela would be for the world to do more for Africa, former President Bill Clinton said.
Clinton praised Mandela as a “gift to humanity.”

Clinton and his wife, Hillary, joined the audience as they sang “Happy Birthday” to the former South African president, who turned 85 on Friday.

Later, they were among some 1,600 guests who attended a banquet to honour the man who is revered at home and abroad as a hero who preached racial reconciliation to his apartheid-scarred nation despite the 27 years he spent imprisoned by the white, racist regime.

Guests at the banquet included celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Robert DeNiro, South African President Thabo Mbeki and former President South African President F.W. de Klerk, who released Mandela from prison in 1990 and later shared the Nobel Peace Prize with him.

In his earlier speech, Clinton laid out a three-step plan he said Western nations could use to help raise Africa out of poverty. It included relieving Africa’s foreign debt, increasing trade and helping to “unleash huge amounts of resources” for development.

Addressing an audience that included retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, rock musician Bono and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Clinton was interrupted several times by applause during a speech in which he compared Mandela to Mahatma Gandhi.
At the end of the evening Mandela and his third wife, Graca Machel, danced in a group that included the Clintons.

To read the full speech, click here.