Tribute to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (Madiba) 1918 - 2013
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Posted by: ISPCAN
ISPCAN acknowledges the enormous global
contribution made by Nelson Mandela to children and child protection. "Tata”
Mandela’s commitment to the well-being of children was sincere, practical and extended
beyond South Africa’s borders.
In numerous speeches he alluded to the
damage of discrimination and apartheid on children, and particularly on
children who were already marginalised by disability or disadvantage. When he
assumed the Presidency of South Africa, he noted with concern the high numbers
of children in prison, living on the streets and traumatised by the violence
that preceded the demise of apartheid and the advent of democracy.
One of his first and most urgent priorities
as President was to embark on a process of law reform to promote the holistic
and optimal development of children. He recognised the need to ensure that
quality health, education and social services were provided to children.
This process was not simply a political
activity, but a consultative one which involved thousands of professionals
working with children and families in South Africa. The resulting legislation
is frequently held up as innovative and progressive, not just in South Africa,
but also in other countries.
Mandela was not just a politician who
picked up children and kissed them as part of creating a political image. He
held children, sat with them, played with them and partied with them. Every
Mandela birthday during his period of public life was celebrated with children,
and he had a special concern for those children who were especially vulnerable
– the disabled, severely disadvantaged, and children in conflict with the law.
Some quotations from his speeches include:
- "There can be no keener revelation of a
society’s soul than the way it treats its children” (1997).
- "To value our children is to value our
- "Africa cannot be reborn while millions of
her children die as a result of hunger, disease and policy”
We mourn Mandela’s death – but celebrate a life
that epitomised forgiveness, reconciliation and a deep concern for all
humankind. Our acknowledgement of Mandela’s greatness inspires us to continue
to work towards a world free of violence against children. As Mandela himself
said, "the children who sleep in the streets, reduced to begging to make a
living, are testimony to an unfinished job.”