Nelson Mandela Foundation

Antonio Guterres Nmal 2020 2

These are selected reflections by the Nelson Mandela Foundation's team of commentators before UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivered the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture.

Nolwazi Tusini
Journalist, gender rights activist, Ruth First Fellow

The global coronavirus pandemic has once again revealed the deep and far-reaching effects of inequality, it has proven that inequality is our most urgent and pressing humanitarian crisis. I look forward to the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres', insights on how we can begin to tackle this.


As we listen to the Secretary-General speak on a new social contract today, I urge us all to meditate on what the current social contract is, and whether all parties have honoured their side of their bargain. And if not, why not? It does not help us to discuss a new social contract if we cannot be honest about why and how we have failed in the social contracts we have in place now. The notion of a just and equitable Rainbow Nation was a crucial part of Madiba's dream for South Africa and the world, but for whom has this rainbow been shining?

Ayabonga Cawe
Development economist, broadcaster, activist

I look forward to hearing the Secretary-General of the UN's remarks. They come at a difficult moment. One that affirms no doubt, the correctness of Madiba and his generation's commitment and struggle to overcome the ill-distribution of wealth, poverty, disease, patriarchal relations and ignorance in this country and beyond .


The memory of Zindziswa Mandela reminds us that the tasks of reconstruction and national liberation are incomplete without resolution of the land question, and its return to those who work it. Moreover, the role of the land in the messy day to day tasks of social reproduction (life-giving, child rearing, and care provision for young and old). Hamba kakuhle ntomb'yamaDlomo. Ndlela ntle sizukulwana sikaNgubengcuka.


Prof Ndebele is correct. Piercing the veil behind this idea that all nations at all times loved Madiba, his organisation and the struggle they undertook. They did not. Especially the United Kingdom and the United States. Memory, as Bra Don Mattera says, "is a weapon". And may we always use that weapon against the duplicity of those who smile with us, while benefiting from our labour, insecurity and pain. 

Patronella Nqaba
Nelson Mandela Foundation researcher, associate

There are no easy answers but I do think we can no longer afford to remain silent and in the comfort of our homes. We can no longer continue to be spectators as opposed to active citizens that hold ourselves and our leaders accountable.

Ottilia Anna Maunganidze
Head of special projects, Institute for Security Studies

Inequality is a key global challenge, and as Luvuyo Madasa just said, we have to CHOOSE to do better and reduce the gap. End inequality.


“Your freedom and mine cannot be separated” – Mam' Zindzi reading the words of uTata Madiba.

This message is critical today. Extreme poverty robs people of the very freedoms that those with means can enjoy everyday. 


"Make a world of difference in the lives of others …"

This is a call to action that shouldn't just be left to one day, it is an everyday call.

We can, and should, let legacies live beyond moments.

Shaeera Kalla
Co-founder, The Mbegu Platform, Covid-19 People’s Coalition

It is indeed a critical time we find ourselves in, the only way to recover is through systems change, so I look forward to seeing how world leaders like the SG are introspecting on the changes needed both within and outside organisations like the UN to ensure for example that at the bare minimum when there is a vaccine it will be accessible to all. 


Mam' Zindzi's legacy is so much more than the speech she gave on behalf of her father. Her fierce activism and loving presence will be missed! Lala ngo xolo.

Rekgotsofetse Chikane
University lecturer, author

It's always interesting trying to approach the Nelson Mandela Lecture. Each year always feels like trying to strike a balance between embracing the legacy of this monumental figure, while simultaneously acknowledging how the world constantly ignores living out his legacy. The speech gives us hope but also reminds how little we have done to truly change the lives of billions of people across the world, let alone our own continent. 

So I am looking forward to the lecture. I'm really excited to hear the SG's view on the current state of geopolitics, the impact of COVID-19 on our notion of society and the systemic challenges we face as a global community. More so, I'm hoping that he gives us more than hope for change, but the belief that we can change our world. 


Our attachment to the notion of aid and development has been skewed for decades now. It's one of those, “We know it's a problem, but don't know how to fix it” kinda problem. Even when the fixes look so obvious.

Songezo M
SAfm presenter

This is a Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture like no other:

1. This is the first virtual such lecture. 

2. This takes place in the wake of the passing of Tata Nelson and Mama Winnie's daughter, Mama Zindzi. 

3. It is happening in quite easily the most volatile time this generation of the world's population has ever seen - the COVID-19 pandemic.

Could it get more sombre than this?


Excellent reference ... That histories of the United States (US) and South Afrika (RSA) are only different in geography and time. At a time where both countries face considerable delusion, might we (from the US and RSA) draw great collective strength and resolve from both Tata Mandela and Lewis in correcting some obvious and, worse, deliberate wrongs of our shared humanity. 

May the indefatigable spirit of Rep. John Lewis rest in eternal power!


One wonders what was [Mam' Zindzi Mandela's] deepest regret about this “free” South Afrika. To have lost so much as a child, which continued into adulthood, were her cries ever heard? One can only wonder! Spare a thought for Mam' Zenani, whose had the agony of burying her parents, siblings and grandchild. 


Judith February
Lawyer, governance specialist and columnist

Looking forward to the Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture about to be delivered by UN SG Guterres. The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the fragility in institutions across the world and in SA in particular. How do governments and global institutions respond in order to ensure resilience in the future? 


Today's lecture also takes place on the day of John Lewis's passing. Richard Stengel reminds us that it was Lewis "who first went to South Africa in 1964 and said the civil rights struggle in America and South Africa was 'inseparable'".


Dealing with the climate crisis must be an overwhelming concern for the citizens of the world: it reinforces inequality. Looking forward to hearing what the SG has to say about such inter-related global challenges.