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Mandela Celebration at WARC


The West African Research Center (WARC) hosted a discussion on Saturday December 6, 2014 as part of a series celebrations designed to mark the first anniversary of the passing of uTata Nelson Mandela. Academics, civil society, artists, journalists and students and many others participated in a most stimulating discussion around Mandela’s political legacy in the African continent and beyond. The event was convened by the association 4Mandela in collaboration with the Senegalese Human Rights Committee (CSDH) and WARC. A six member panel reflected, and exchanged with a dynamic audience, on Nelson Mandela’s political legacy, especially with reference to Africa.

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M. Alioune Tine, president of the CSDH, made opening remarks with a powerful statement “we miss Nelson Mandela”. For Mr Tine, given his trajectory, Nelson Mandela is the only President who could legitimately be a President for life. Instead, he graciously handed over power after a single term.

Professor Ousmane Sène (UCAD), the Director of WARC, gave a brief biography of Nelson Mandela especially for young people in the audience who may know little about the leader of the African National Congress (ANC). He restated those qualities that make uTata Mandela an extraordinary human being and leader, namely humility, integrity, patience, selflessness, and absolute commitment to a cause and an idea.

M. Doudou Sarr (former Senegalese minister of African Integration) made a link between the disappearance of ‘imperialism’ in the postcolonial discourse and practice of African political elites on the one hand, with a growing disconnect from the meaning of the liberation struggle, in which Mandela fought against all forms of domination, black and white.

Dr Amy Niang (faculty at Witwatersrand University and currently ACLS fellow at WARC) reflected on Mandela’s political and moral ethics around the three notions of governance, Ubuntu and commitment. She emphasized the progressive and future-orientated nature of Madiba’s thought. For her, Mandela should not be reduced to a figure of the past but very much a contemporary figure that is most relevant to our political present.

Dr Mamadou Dramé (UCAD) for his part urged young people to better understand the footprints of Mandela so as to live up to his legacy through public service and the fight for freedom, equality, and opportunity.

Mme Amy Fall Sarr (Intelligence Magazine) pointed out that the best way we can celebrate Mandela is to work for the betterment of the life conditions of our people. This view was shared by Ms Thobeka Dlamini, first political adviser at the South African Embassy in Dakar. For Ms Dlamini, the virtues and values we so admire in Madiba should be part of our everyday commitment and practice of social justice. She urged participants to therefore carry the spirit of Mandela Day beyond the day itself.

--Dr Amy NIANG

Political Sciences, Witwatersrand

University (South Africa)

ACLS fellow at WARC

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