Mandela Day celebration rocks Lagos

Posted: July 27, 2011 in art/entertainment

The annual Mandela Day celebration was perhaps the one bright spot that coloured the city of Lagos this past weekend, and by extension provided a welcomed spark in the heavy clouds of the rainy season.

The boisterous event which held inside the posh Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, Lagos, last Saturday, July 23, gathered the who-is-who in the society as well as top wine connoisseurs in the city of Lagos to hours of South African music, dance and wine tasting and cocktail.

Organized by the country’s High commission’s Lagos Office, in collaboration with the South African Tourism (SAT), the Mandela Day celebration is held annually to coincide with the birthday of one of the country’s leading icons, Dr Nelson Mandela, who turned 93, Monday, July 18.

While the main event held all over South Africa, the Office of the High Commission in Lagos opted to stage what it believed was in line with the life, dream and vision of the former president, also fondly called, the Madiba, in an event coloured by SAT’s enriched content.

Nelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated every July 18 (on Mandela’s birthday). The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first United Nations Mandela Day held July 18, 2010. However, other groups began celebrating Mandela Day July 18 2009.

On April 27, 2009, the 46664 concerts and the Nelson Mandela Foundation invited the global community to join them in support of an official Mandela Day. Mandela Day is not meant as a public holiday, but as a day to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela and his values, through volunteering and community service.

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.

The Mandela Day campaign message is: “Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes. We would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation,” according to a statement issued on Mandela’s behalf.

At the Silverbird Galleria last Saturday, the organizers lined out a full presentation that created the feel and ambience of an amusement park spiced with live music and dance as accompaniment.

With a special Zulu dance troupe flown all the way from South Africa to perform to the admiration of the hundreds of Nigerians who had been drawn to the event by the open invitation sent out through the popular social media networks, live stage performance by local band added to the flavour of the afternoon.

For a select few wine connoisseurs in the crowd, the wine tasting and cocktail that followed the Zulu troupe performance was the object of attraction just as many others opted for the screen presentation of a documentary on the life and times of the Madiba.

Still, the music and culture of the country was the atmosphere of the audience inside the Galleria as glasses of varieties of South African wines and snacks flowed afterwards interrupted by the occasional handing out of branded and exotic souvenirs by the organizers.

Speaking on the occasion, Head of the South African High Commission, Thandi Mgxwati explained that the celebrations which had held nationally in South Africa the previous week had to be moved to Saturday in Nigeria for logistic reasons adding further that the significance of the Mandela Day was mainly to highlight what the freedom fighter’s life represented not just to his compatriots but also to Africans in general.

“The essence of the celebrations is to acknowledge and recognize the significance of Dr. Nelson Mandela’s life journey especially as it concerns the event holding in Nigeria because we all know Nigeria occupies a very important place in the history of the South African struggle. Unity and love are two other things that Mandela stood for which this event represents and which we are also highlighting,” said the envoy.

According to her, the contents of the celebrations were carefully selected to underscore the importance celebrations pointing out that while the photo exhibition chronicles Mandela’s experiences from his trials at Rivonia to his imprisonment at the Robben Island Prisons in Cape Town, the wine tasting and showcase was aimed at highlighting the modern South African potentials.

Afterwards, various Nigerians paid glowing tributes to Mandela at the event including the president of the Silverbird Group, Mr. Ben Murray-Bruce, who described the icon as ‘an exceptional and exemplary character who opted to forgive his persecutors even after 27 years of incarceration.’

Other dignitaries who graced the occasion included Mr. Godfrey Mulaudzi, the Minister Counsellor, South African High Commission in Abuja as well as media consultant and broadcaster, Mr. Sonni Irabor, among others.

Elsewhere, in South Africa the Mandela Day 2011 was marked with the launch of a campaign to provide 10 libraries, constructed from converted shipping containers, to primary schools across South Africa during 2011.

“That joy (of reading) has been mine all my life, and it is one I wish for all South Africans,” remarked then  president Nelson Mandela in 2005.

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