In November 2009, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed International Mandela Day in recognition of the former South African President’s contributions to peace and freedom. The date is celebrated each year on his birthday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa presented the 18th Nelson Mandela Lecture, which aired on the South African Broadcasting Corporation, saying that the liberation struggle hero does not belong to South Africa alone, but also to “peace loving and freedom loving peoples all over the world.”
Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro took to social media in remembrance of the late South African leader: “We celebrate 102 years of the birth of our dear brother, Nelson Mandela. A leader who embraced the cause of justice and defended it with the greatest of sacrifices, managing to break centuries of racial domination in his people. Madiba will always be present in our actions.”
From Cuba, President Miguel Diaz-Canel tweeted, “On the international Mandela Day, we recall the leader who changed South Africa's history and always distinguished Cuba as a sister nation of struggles and victories.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered his statements virtually from the UN headquarters in New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Guterres spoke about his experiences meeting with Mandela and recalled his resilience which made him an international icon and role model.
The UN head also sent deep condolences to the Mandela family as well as to the government of South Africa before the passing of Ambassador Zindziswa Mandela, the youngest of the anti-aparatheid leader’s children, who passed away in Denmark this week.
Among the most influential leaders of the 20th century, Mandela spent 27 years in prison for combating apartheid policies and was elected as the first Black President of South Africa in the country’s first multiracial elections. He passed away at the age of 95 on December 5, 2013.