Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will officially recognise Nelson Mandela Day on Wednesday, 18th July, 2018 as part of local centennial celebrations.
Nelson Mandela, a South African anti-apartheid activist, was the first black President of the Republic of South Africa. The centennial activities were launched on Monday, 11th June 2018, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference room.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Sandy Peters-Phillips, said she is pleased that her Ministry is a part of the inter-ministerial committee to spearhead activities for Mandela’s centennial celebrations. According to Phillips, the activities begin on Friday 6th July with the judging of schools mural and/or painting competition. Then on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th, the Permanent Secretary stated that churches will read specially prepared messages. Also, on Sunday 15th July, there will be the Nelson Mandela centennial relay, and a freedom songs concert.
Ms. Phillips also disclosed that on Monday 16th July, the inter-ministerial committee will host a lecture in conjunction with the Prime Minister’s Office.
The celebrations also include radio and television interviews, movie night and a charity drive. Wednesday 18th July will see the naming of Nelson Mandela Drive and a dress day, and on Thursday 19th, the showing of a documentary feature.
The centennial celebrations conclude on Friday 20th July with the recognition of winners of the schools mural and/or painting competition and the most prominent entity for the Nelson Mandela dress day. Phillips urged the public to actively participate in the activities and to contact the inter-ministerial committee for further information.
In his welcome remarks, Director of Foreign Policy and Research, Mr. Mozart Carr, stated that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines formed diplomatic ties with the Republic of South Africa on September 1st, 1995. He said prior to that, this country withheld forming ties with the said country because of the apartheid regime. Over the years however, the relationship between both countries has been strengthened through the CARICOM Community, United Nations and the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) countries group. Carr noted that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica are the only two CARICOM countries that enjoy visa-free entry to South Africa for 90 days.
Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Hon. Luke Browne, delivered the feature presentation at the centennial launch. He described Nelson Mandela as a giant among men who fought for the cause of equality and social justice. The Minister with responsibility for Health said that Mandela will also be remembered for his Foundation which continues to play an important role in the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Minister Browne told the audience that he admired Mandela for his persistence and his keen interest in reconciliation.
He commended the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the inter-ministerial committee for launching an excellent program of activities to commemorate Mandela’s centenary.