Development and Peace joins the world in mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela, whose struggle to end apartheid in South Africa inspired a global movement to end racial discrimination, poverty and all forms of oppression and injustice.
In the late 1980s, Development and Peace joined that movement. In solidarity, we took action here in Canada and collected 120,000 signatures to petition the Canadian government to maintain sanctions against South Africa until apartheid was abolished. In 1990, when Nelson Mandela spoke at the Commonwealth meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, former Development and Peace Executive Director Gabrielle Lachance was present and participated in the signing of a trust to create the Nelson Mandela Fund, to support efforts to end apartheid and towards which Development and Peace contributed.
Nelson Mandela showed us that social justice is a long and arduous journey, but with faith, perseverance and resolve – even in the darkest of moments – change for a better world can happen. After 27 years as a political prisoner, Nelson Mandela was finally freed because the world had rallied behind his cause. Not long after, Mandela personally wrote to Development and Peace to thank the organization for its solidarity, which he said was, “appreciated as a genuine demonstration of support for our struggle.”
We are honoured to have been a partner with this great man as he worked to bring freedom to South Africa and an end to apartheid. Even after apartheid ended and Mandela was elected President of South Africa in 1994, he never gave up on being a voice for the marginalized. His life will remain an inspiration and a call to action to us and to all those who believe in the dignity of each and every person.
In his celebrated memoirs he wrote: “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”
Madiba, your long walk is not over. It continues through each and every person that you have inspired along the way.