Chief Justice Anthony Gates during his address at the Mandela Day celebrations at the Laucala Campus.
All leaders require courage which includes both moral and physical courage and the late Nelson Mandela had both.
This was the sentiment expressed by Chief Justice Anthony Gates during the Mandela Day Celebration on 18 July 2018, at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Japan-Pacific ICT Multipurpose Theatre, Laucala Campus.
Justice Gates, who was the Chief Guest at the celebration, said that certainly Mandela’s was a life to be commemorated.
Justice Gates highlighted that Mandela was ‘stubbornly against injustice’, adding that he could see two sides to any argument and would even give credit to an opponent for his good points
The theme for the celebration was “how can we make the world a better place, a global movement for good, and make a positive impact on the world?”
He noted that heroes and saints are admired after their deaths but there is a tendency for people to set a course for themselves to head off in the opposite direction.
Justice Gates shared about an interview of Mandela by Oprah Winfrey where she asked about how he endured the twenty seven (27) years of imprisonment, first at Robben Island, then Pollsmoor and finally at Victor Verster prison.
“His answer was that he had a great deal to work through in his head, matters to resolve. He needed that much time to reach a satisfactory outcome. The modesty was remarkable,” Justice Gates remarked.
To this, he mentioned that genuine modesty is another useful approach to the conflicts and to problems generally.
Arrogance, he stated, does not bring about change, or the resolution of conflict.
Yet, he added, unfortunately there is a good deal of it about and exists in the approach to diplomacy and in the aid industry.
“For all of Mandela’s efforts to encourage reconciliation, I feel sure he would have approved of Fiji’s “talanoa” approach,” Justice Gates further emphasised.
This, he said has become an attractive byword in the COP 23 deliberations in Bonn and elsewhere.
“If we meet and keep talking, we are sure to make progress. If we keep talking, have personal meetings, and gain and accord respect, we will improve relations. The meetings acknowledge the humanity of the opponent,” he remarked.
A student essay competition was run by the South African High Commission for Mandela Day and Year 13 student of Tilak High School in Lautoka, Suhana Sahib scooped the award for the competition.
The celebration also saw a panel discussion where panellists included Suhana Sahib, Winner of the Student Essay Competition, Mr Broderick Mervyn, Fijian Youth Parliament 2015 representative, Mr Kananelo Tlebere, retired civil servant from Republic of South Africa, Dr Jacob Mati, member of the African Community in the Pacific, Dr Desta Gedefaw, Lecturer at USP, and Ms Dorothy Spiller of USP.
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