Mandela’s leadership continues to motivate generations of young people across the globe, says U.S. Ambassador to UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Former South African President Nelson Mandela’s leadership “continues to motivate generations of young people across the globe to improve their communities and countries,” the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Sunday to mark the 12th Nelson Mandela International Day.

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Mandela spent 27 years in prison split between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison, and was elected President after he was released. Rather than pursuing vengeance, Mandela worked to bring all South Africans together.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, addresses Mandela Washington Fellows at the YALI Presidential Summit, August 3, 2016. State Department photo by Tim Brown. (edited)
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, addresses Mandela Washington Fellows at the YALI Presidential Summit, August 3, 2016. State Department photo by Tim Brown.

“I once had the great honor and fortune of a lifetime to meet Madiba. His leadership, his courage, and his commitment to doing what was right – in the face of difficult odds and grave danger – continue to inspire me today. As the international community honors him today, let us follow in his footsteps to leave our children with a more fair, free, and peaceful world,” Thomas-Greenfield wrote in a statement.

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She said, “Today, we join people around the world in commemorating Nelson Mandela International Day – a day to remember the extraordinary life and legacy of a devoted public servant and to carry forward his vision for a more just, equitable, and inclusive world.  

“The essence of Mandela Day – to act and inspire change – is grounded in President Mandela’s lifelong struggle to advance human rights, freedom, and democracy in the face of extraordinary challenges. His uncommon courage, integrity, and compassion is a source of inspiration to the world and a powerful testament to the capacity for every person to affect change.  

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“President Mandela’s leadership continues to motivate generations of young people across the globe to improve their communities and countries. Since 2010, the Young African Leaders Initiative Mandela Washington Fellowship has brought more than 24,000 outstanding young innovators from every country in sub-Saharan Africa to the United States for academic and leadership training. Watching the Mandela Fellows flourish and advance President Mandela’s ideals of service reminds me that the future is in good hands.  

“I once had the great honor and fortune of a lifetime to meet Madiba. His leadership, his courage, and his commitment to doing what was right – in the face of difficult odds and grave danger – continue to inspire me today. As the international community honors him today, let us follow in his footsteps to leave our children with a more fair, free, and peaceful world.”

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