Soyinka colours Mandela Day 2012 celebrations in Lagos

Posted: July 26, 2012 in art/entertainment, arts/culture

Following the huge success of last year’s Nelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) celebrations which was organized in Lagos, Nigeria, by the South African High Commission (SAHC), in partnership with the South African Tourism (SAT), both agencies last Saturday, July 21 again staged a sequel but this time with Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka as the top attraction.

Last year’s event had featured a South African Zulu cultural troupe as its major attraction.

The Nelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, and 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 International Day held July 18, 2010. However, other groups began celebrating Mandela Day July 18 2009.

On a weekend that did not hold much in form of entertainment for the city’s teeming fun seekers, the Mandela Day celebration provided a bit of colour as the Silverbird Galleria for the second time platformed the celebrations which also had in attendance top officials from the SAHC in Lagos, kids performances, as well an arts and crafts exhibition by Nigerian and South African artists.

Organized to coincide with the birthday of one of the country’s leading icons, Dr Nelson Mandela, who turned 94, on July 18, the Mandela Day celebrations has become one of the top events in the calendar of the SAHC as it seeks to broaden its scope of activities and in turn improve relations with national of its host country.

Explaining the theme for this year’s celebrations, which is: Take Action, Inspire Change; Make Everyday a Mandela Day, the SAHC’s Counsellor-Political and Head of Lagos Office, Ms Thandi Mgxwati, said it was designed to inspire action change and put smiles on the faces of people by way of inspiration in line with what Mandela stood for.

“We are trying to reach and put smiles on the faces of those that are need and in a sort of inspirational movement for good which we are all designed to take action. The values that Nelson Mandela stood are the same as those that this event is out for , not just for those in South Africa but everyone else anywhere in the world. We are saying that people most inspire others and take action which is in line with the theme of this year’s event. And with this event we are trying to reach out to as many people as possible,” Mgxwati said.

On his part, the Counsel General, SAHC Lagos, Ambassador Mokgethi Sam Monaisa, who described Mandela as having spent the best of his lifetime fighting for the right of the downtrodden not only for South Africans but for humanity at large, stressed that Mandela’s major preoccupation was for Africa to attain peace and Africans

“We all know Mr. Nelson Mandela as he has spent the best of active life fighting for the rights of the downtrodden and humanity as well. He has really been concerned throughout his active years that the people of Africa must attain peace and that Africa must attain stability. And he spent 27 years of his life in jail fighting apartheid regime in South Africa. He was an example to all the leadership of this country that as a leader you have to give a chance to men who would come after you. He served only one term, he could have stayed longer for a second term or more.” he said.

On building stronger ties with Nigeria, Mokgethi said the event was one of such planned to strengthen ties between Nigeria and South Africa adding that in September this year, the high commission will also partner with a private firm for the hosting of a Nigeria/South Africa Week.

According to him, the planned event will feature a week of activities ranging from showcase of business organizations from South Africa and Nigeria, literary discussions, artistes performances and others geared towards a stronger relations between the two countries.

Highpoint of this year’s celebrations was the presence of the diplomatic community represented by the Camorounian Embassy Counsel General in Lagos, Mr. Paul A Dong, and of Prof Soyinka who joined a select group of children and high commission official in cutting the Mandela cake, which was followed by a VIP wine tasting session and a documentary of Mandela depicting his life of struggles against apartheid, time in prison camp and life as a statesman.

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