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UN celebrates Mandela Day with call for action against poverty

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"Politcal freedom without freedom from hunger is meaningless"

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Picture: Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
At the United Nations in Geneva this year, Nelson Mandela International Day has focused on taking action against poverty, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a special message read out for him. 

Michael Moller, director-general the United Nations Office at Geneva, shared Guterres’ message at a ceremony attended by dignitaries from around the world and South Africa at which the UN leader spoke of Mandela’s “wisdom, compassion and above all his humility”.

“Nelson Mandela continues to inspire the world through his example of courage and compassion, and his commitment to social justice and a culture of freedom and peace,” he said. 

July 18 is the anniversary of the birth of Mandela, the first president of South Africa elected by universal suffrage election in the country and who by his example in the fight for freedom and reconciliation became one the 20th century’s greatest statesmen. Moller said, 

“Nelson Mandela recognised access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion all contribute to keeping people in the grips of poverty. Let’s be inspired by his call and take action to improve the lives of others.” 

South African Ambassador Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko said Mandela “firmly believed that political freedom without freedom from hunger is meaningless”. 

“For us South Africans, Nelson Mandela Day is a day to reaffirm our global commitment to the values and mission on which the United Nations was founded to serve as a champion and advocate for the poor, the needy and the oppressed,” she said. “In this context this year’s Nelson Mandela Day theme: ‘Taking Action Against Poverty’ not only serves as reminder to us all of the unfinished work we all have,” said the ambassador. 
File photo: David Ritchie