The Most Honourable Andrew Holness O.N., M.P.
Prime Minister Of Jamaica
On The Occasion Of The
Nelson Mandela Peace Summit
Focus: Global Peace
United Nations General Assembly
United Nations Headquarters
Mr Secretary General
Ladies and Gentlemen
I commend the United Nations, the greatest global peace alliance, for convening this Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, in commemoration of the centenary of his birth.
Jamaica is proud of the strong leadership role we played in driving efforts to dismantle the apartheid system in South Africa. Under that system, Nelson Mandela was unjustly incarcerated for 27 years and millions of Africans oppressed.
We were the first country in the Western Hemisphere and second in the world, along with India to ban trade and travel with the racist regime.
Indeed, Jamaica’s support for the fight against racial injustice in South Africa preceded the official start of the apartheid system.
Over many years, with support from countries all across the globe, many Jamaicans including academics, politicians, clergy, Iconic artists, such as our own Reggae legend and freedom fighter Bob Marley and people from all walks of life, were joined together in a clarion call free Mandela.
It is in this context that I am deeply honored to participate in this Summit, which comes at a time of heightened global concern about hostility and conflict within some of our societies; with some regimes focused on the use of might rather than the protection of right.
The centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth provides space for us as world leaders to affirm the need for healthy and meaningful dialogue to engender peace, reconciliation and communal accord. These I believe are principles that Mandela would very much wish us to promote on this occasion.
Admittedly, these goals are not easily achieved without significant sacrifice from leaders. No one understood this more than Nelson Mandela. He asserted that “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people”. That was his mantra, and sacrifice he did.
Nelson Mandela understood however, throughout his long walk to freedom, that full freedom could only be achieved if he left bitterness behind. In his own words, “what counts is not the mere fact that we lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead”.
Like Mandela, we too must commit to the consolidation of peaceful coalitions. What better occasion than this Summit, to do just that.
Let that be our legacy in his honour!