On the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), Portugal joins in the commemorations taking place all over the world over the next few months.
The example and legacy of former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela remain of the utmost importance for the cultivation of peace and freedom at a global scale. In 2009 Portugal cosponsored a United Nations General Assembly resolution declaring the 18th of July International Nelson Mandela Day – a recognition of the values and ideals of Nelson Mandela, and of his dedication and service to Humanity and Democracy.
Nelson Mandela is one of the greatest symbols of the struggle against the unjust and repressive apartheid regime in South Africa. A struggle shared by many, but where Nelson Mandela had a particularly relevant role as an aggregating and inspiring leader, fronting the fight when needed, and dialoguing whenever possible. Given the choice, he followed the path of reconciliation, never losing sight of the road to the multiracial democracy he believed in from the start.
His determination in the fight against repression, his coherence in defence of human dignity, liberty and equality, and the integrity he displayed in face of the life sentence he was given remain inspirational for all of those who fight for Democracy and Human Rights, transcending the borders of his own country and the African continent.
The fight against apartheid spearheaded by Nelson Mandela progressed as Portugal consolidated its then young democracy. Portugal and South Africa, sharing the values Nelson Mandela fought for have, today, strong diplomatic relations, rooted in political understanding, relevant economic relations and, in particular, the considerable Portuguese community living and working in South Africa, and its remarkable social and economic contribution towards the diverse South African society.
For all of reasons stated above, Portugal is proud to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela and his legacy.