UNITED NATIONS. REFLECTING U.N. CULTURE, MANDELA PORTRAIT HONOURS HEADQUARTERS

 

REFLECTING U.N. CULTURE, MANDELA PORTRAIT HONOURS HEADQUARTERS

15 March 2007

Twenty-seven years after his Walk to Freedom, the greatest symbol of struggle for Human Dignity had his portrait placed at United Nations Headquarters. Nelson Mandela, South African Apartheid prisoner number 46664, tore down the chains of hatred and bigotry to teach us all the true meaning of tolerance and justice. Rising above his personal wounds, and those of his people, "Madeba" reflected what is best in Africa, what is best in our world: a determined spirit, and a compassionate soul.

In fact, Nelson Mandela reflected what was best in the United Nations authentic culture: dedication, sacrifice, and an enlightened commitment to a future of peace based on justice and freedom.

It was fitting that the portrait ceremony in New York was chaired by a distinguished daughter of Tanzania, Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro. Her country has been in the forefront of the struggle for self-determination and the fight against Apartheid. History shows how Muallimu Julius Nyrere, God bless his soul, taught us all how to conduct an enlightened unflinching campaign for the cause. Dar es-Salaam played a pivotal role in the independence of many member states which, in turn, helped their brothers and sisters elsewhere on the road to liberation. It was a sacred cause in which each of us at the United Nations felt honoured and proud to have shared in participation.

Ms. Migiro described Madeba Mandela as a "true human treasure." His portrait by Jan Beckman has found its appropriate spot near the Security Council, perhaps as a constant reminder to its members of their pending commitments. His real portrait will always be in our grateful hearts.