Following a lecture in Durban, South Africa by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, Nelson Mandela’s widow urged the continent to heed the message from the leader of one of the tiniest nations on earth.
Graca Simbine Machel Mandela culminated the 20th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture by showering the Caribbean leader with accolades and approval for an address titled — ‘Social Bonding and Decolonization in the Context of the Climate Crisis; Perspectives from the Global South.’
“We have a leader, she is our own but she’s global,” Mrs. Nelson Mandela said.
The 77-year-old matriarch expressed pride in hearing the lecture from the visitor she described as “brilliant.”
“I’m so proud that it is an African child leading globally from a small country — as if countries can be measured by dimensions of territory.”
To thunderous approval from the gathering she emphasized her appreciation repeatedly saying “Thank you” many times over.
PM Mottley, she said articulated the hope her husband envisioned for his nation when he fought racist Afrikaners who for decades supported apartheid.
“You spoke to us, you reminded us of our” crisis “You reignite our sense of urgency, our responsibility for our own future.”
“Thank you for reminding us how difficult it was to dismantle apartheid.”
Machel-Mandela credited the guest with possessing “bold leadership, the courage, the deep sense of justice, the ability to make complex issues, palpable to ordinary citizens.”
“You came to take the baton from Madiba.”
The African widow addressed the mission South Africans must embark in order to fulfill aspirations PM Mottley detailed.
“Hello South Africa, Hello Africa, Hello Global South, it’s time for Global South to lead, time for North and South to listen and Hello Woman family, we only have one planet and we have the ability to save it.”
The closing message to delegates and guests sounded transformational, a call to action from the first first lady of apartheid-free South Africa.
At a juncture she faced the Caribbean leader while referencing Madiba, the nickname her apartheid-busting, trailblazing, nationalist, liberator husband is known.
She credited the first female, prime minister of the Republic with emboldening “a second generation of liberation” inclusive of a female leader with the ability to “combine heart and mind to articulate difficult issues.”
Looking out at the sea of women gathered, she paid tribute to the lecturer vowing support saying: “you have many of us as your soldiers, we will be beside and even behind you…no one is too small to lead.”
Machel-Mandela used the opportunity to deliver a mandate for female leadership by calling on girls to mobilize an activist movement for change.
“We need many more Mias, you need to stand up and be counted.”
She described PM Mottley as ‘brilliant’ for illuminating an admonition previously delivered at the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, in Scotland and wherever she is invited to address the subject of Climate Change and global warming.
PM Mottley repeated the call for multinational corporations and philanthropist to pay for damages attributed to climate change.
“We aren’t asking that the money should come to us. We are saying do it wherever. But what must happen is that you must do it and regrettably what we are still getting is the stand-off. It comestibles because mankind is so consumed with the geopolitics of today’s world that we are forgetting the reality of the planet on which we live. It’s sad because at the end of the day, time waits on no one and the climate equally is not waiting on anyone to minimize its impact on our living, on our way of life.”
Romario Valentine, an 11-year-old, and the youngest in attendance at the Durban International Convention Centre in KwaZulu Natal reportedly dubbed PM Mottley a ‘Climate Warrior.’
During a salutary digression from the topic PM Mottley rebuked Mandela’s critics who branded him a sellout; that he fell short of being purposeful.
“It hurts me to hear that there are some who believe that Madiba did not do enough and perhaps worse for a few that he might have been a sellout — all because what they believe justifiably so, should be theirs today, is not yet theirs. If there is any one single truth, it is that each of us runs our leg of the relay, the baton is all that they can be required of us to carry.”
“Those who expect more of Madiba, expect more because their own personal financial and economic circumstances have not moved with a pace that they may otherwise have accepted it or expected it. And it is for that reason that I believe that if ever there was a moment in time for the Global South to rally behind a cause, it is now.”
Machel-Mandela maintains the reputation for being the world’s only first lady to two presidents of two different countries, marrying Samora Machel, president of Mozambique and after his death, Nelson Mandela, the first Black president of South Africa with whom she remained from 1998 until his death at age 95 in 2013.
Her portfolio includes teacher, human rights advocate, politician, philanthropist, member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights (co-founded with her husband Nelson).
Until 2019 she also served as chancellor of the University of Cape Town.
The advocate of African development and only two-time widow of presidents from different countries said the global leadership baton belongs in the hands of women and specifically Mia Motley’s.
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