NMF Chief Executive Mr Achmat Dangor, Prof Ismail Serageldin and NMF Trustee Dr Mamphela Ramphele address the press while the NMF’s Sello Hatang watches on
21 July, 2011 – Professor Ismail Serageldin, Director of Egypt’s Library of Alexandria and official speaker for this year’s Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, addressed members of the press at the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) today. He was accompanied by NMF Trustee Dr Mamphela Ramphele and NMF CEO Mr Achmat Dangor.
The press conference was a precursor to the Annual Lecture, set to take place this coming Saturday, July 23. Dr Ramphele opened for Prof Serageldin, saying the Annual Lecture was to be the “cherry on top” following Mr Nelson Mandela’s birthday celebrations. On securing Prof Serageldin as speaker for this year, Dr Ramphele said, “He and I have walked a long journey together. He is someone who will truly challenge us as South Africans.”
Prof Serageldin greeted the press, saying, “It is an honour to be invited to the Annual Lecture.” He went on to speak about social justice, social responsibility and social cohesion, all major themes in his upcoming lecture. He also spoke about South Africa’s history, as well as Egypt’s recent unrest and the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak.
He emphasised the importance of social unity, saying, “Societies around us are falling apart,” and that social cohesion would “come about with the participation of the people”.
He spoke of his experiences in Egypt during the unrest, and in particular of being confronted by massive crowds of protestors marching towards the Library of Alexandria. He recalled the protestors breaking apart as they neared the great library and forming a “human chain” to barricade and protect it.
It was a spontaneous, wonderful moment to see,” said Prof Serageldin. “You could see [the protestors] saw it as a place of learning, of dialogue, of openness. It validated all the work we have done. “The people who triggered the revolution [in Egypt] are mainly young people,” he explained. “There has been no clear leader, no single political party behind it. One can expect the transition to be more difficult.”
Prof Serageldin said he believes the Egyptian protestors to have been mostly peaceful.
“Demonstrations happen – they are part of a process of expression. Sure, there was a little bit of shouting, a little bit of name-calling. So what? It’s healthy.”
Prof Serageldin and NMF Trustee Mamphela Ramphele discuss his forthcoming address at this year’s Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture
On South Africa’s struggle during apartheid and the legacy of South Africa’s freedom fighters, Prof Serageldin said, “We have much to learn from the Rainbow Nation.”
He went on to say, “The inspirational leadership of Nelson Mandela changed the course of history.”
Prof Serageldin closed by wishing Mr Mandela many happy returns.
The Annual Lecture will take place at the Linder Auditorium, where Prof Serageldin will continue to speak about these issues so close to his heart.
This lecture has been made possible through the support of SAP as primary donor with supporting contributions from the Swedish Postcode Lottery and the Coca-Cola Foundation.