given by Nelson Mandela on June 28, 2008...more
at the 46664 concert in Hype Park, London,
to mark his 90th birthday would make many
succumb to tears.
Has anyone thought deeply about the
message that Madiba was trying to pass
Lets go over it again.
“Friends, 20 years ago London hosted a
historic concert which called for our
freedom. Your voices carried across the
water to inspire us in our prison cells far
away. Tonight, we are free. We are honoured
to be back in London.
“As we celebrate, let us remind ourselves
that our work is far from complete. Where
there is poverty and sickness, including
AIDS, where human beings are being
oppressed, there is more work to be done.
Our work is for freedom for all ... We say
tonight, after nearly 90 years of life, it is time
for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your
hands now, I thank you.”
How else could the words; “ it is time for
new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your
hands now”, be interpreted?
Having sacrificed the bulk of his 90 years
on earth fighting for the freedom of his
people, the message couldn't have meant
that he was giving up for lack of will.Mandela, one of the greatest human
beings that ever walked on the face of the
earth, even with his heart of lion, is a mortal
When this three- paragraph speech would
be re-visited tomorrow, no one would
accuse the freedom fighter of not saying
goodbye. He has come, he has seen and he
Even if it is scary to call it a premonition,
the previous concert in London when the
world spoke against apartheid was 20 years
ago. The only way to re-frame the message
is that the end of an era has come.
But who are the new hands he was
referring to, to lift the burdens?
Of course, there can never be another
Mandela. But one would be naive to predict
that the world would never witness another
dreaded situation to
require the rare
steadfastness of a
Ma n d e l a t o
still wars in
I r a q a n d
S u d a n .
Peace is still
b e e n a
c r a z y world.
Mandela reminded the world of the heavy
burdens to include AIDS and oppression.
He was more direct in his speech at a fund
raising dinner for his Foundation on the eve
of the London concert.
Hear him: “Thank you for the continuing
support in the fight against the terrible
scourge of HIV and AIDS. You understand
that it is in your hands to make a difference.
“The world remains beset by so much
human suffering, poverty and deprivation. It
is in your hands to make our world a better
one for all, especially the poor, vulnerable
“We look back at much human progress,
but we sadly note so much failing as well. 'In
our time' we spoke out on the situation in
Palestine and Israel, and that conflict
continues unabated. We warned against the
invasion of Iraq, and observe the terrible
suffering in that country.
“We watch with sadness the continuing
tragedy in Darfur.
“Nearer to home we had seen the outbreak
of violence against fellow Africans in our
own country and the tragic failure of
leadership in our neighbouring Zimbabwe.
“It is within this context that we should
also see the plight of those affected
by HIV and AIDS.
“It is now in the
h a n d s of your generations to help rid the world of
The only consolation as the legend signs
off is that he is not throwing the baton away.
He is passing it to every living soul in this
“ It is in your hands now.”
*On August 5th, 1962, Nelson Mandela
was arrested after living in underground
hiding for seventeen months, and was
initially imprisoned in the Johannesburg
Fort. He was imprisoned after being charged
with involvement in planning armed action
and a conspiracy to help other countries
invade South Africa. The arrest was made
possible because the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) tipped off South
African security police as to Mandela’s
whereabouts and disguise. Mandela was
later imprisoned on Robben Island, where
he remained for the next eighteen of his
twenty-seven years in prison.
*In March 1982, Mandela was transferred
from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison, in
part to enable discreet contact between him
and the South African government. In 1990,
State President F.W. de Klerk reversed the
ban on anti-apartheid organizations, and
announced that Mandela would shortly be
released from prison. Mandela was released
from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl on
February 11th, 1990, an event that was
broadcast live all over the world.
*South Africa’s first multi-racial
elections were held on April 27th, 1994. The
African National Congress won 62% of the
votes in the election, and Mandela, as leader
of the ANC, was inaugurated on May 10th,
1994, as the country’s first Black President,
with the National Party’s de Klerk as his first
deputy. As President from 1994 until 1999,
Mandela presided over the transition from
minority rule and apartheid, winning
international respect for his advocacy of
national and international reconciliation.
*Mandela’s leadership was recognized
when he was awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace