Articles  >  Know  >  Mandela – the Legacy of Freedom: an exclusive interview with South Africa's Ambassador to Ukraine

Mandela – the Legacy of Freedom: an exclusive interview with South Africa's Ambassador to Ukraine

On 23 October, in Kiev in the Dome Master Class of Education and Culture opens both a festival and exhibition dedicated to the 100th birth anniversary of Nelson Mandela. Thus our chief editor Darya Karyakina interviewed the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa in Ukraine Christian Albertus Basson, who told us about this outstanding person whom he met personally.

– So, let’s start. I would like to ask you about the today’s event. Actually, I think that we did the first exhibition of such kind in Ukraine, so please present a little bit for Ukrainians and tell us some words about this occasion.

– Thank you very much. This year is celebrated the twentieth anniversary of birth of the new South Africa, twenty years of democracy. The President Mandela, as you know, played a very big role in the birth of the modern South Africa – he was the first democratically elected President, in 1994 he was elected already at advanced age. Mandela passed away in December last year, we still fell his presence. Our first exhibition and our first film festival are devoted to those twenty years of democracy and life of the President Mandela that we want to share with everyone. We did it globally this year, not only in Ukraine, but also in other countries. We are very fortunate to have content from the producers of very good films with star actors and top producers for this event. So, we are very glad to host over four or five weeks films about the South Africa.

– I’d like to ask you personally what do you think are the most important achievements of Nelson Mandela for your country?

– To my mind, he obviously achieved a lot. I believe that the first one is reconciliation. We are diverse country: we are from different histories, backgrounds and cultures, and Mandela was able to forge a new nation around the Constitution. Moreover, through his personal contact he was able to bridge the different forces: extreme right wing, left wing and all political groups. He made them all feel a part of the process, to my mind, this is his the most lasting legacy. The second one was his respect for Law, the rule of Law. He was trained as a lawyer, and we are very fortunate that our three founding fathers Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and the President Mandela were all lawyers and had a great respect for Law. For them the African democratic Constitution that captures the aspirations of the South Africa and human rights respect, was very important. I think the third element for him was that he was a success to take the South Africa back to international community. As you may remember, we were crossed out from the most of international events until Mandela became the President. He took us back to international community. Thus, he contributed much into reconciliation and peace through negotiations. You know he did not like war, he did not like violence. He made a great contribution into humankind. He was a very great man of humanity. I met him a few times.

– Really?

– Oh yes, I can tell you some interesting stories about him.

– Please tell, it is very interesting to speak to person who made an acquaintance with such a great figure.

– I am going to share my personal experience. When I was working in our international relations department, I had to go and brief him a few times in his office. He remembered names and he remembered faces. Once there was a very interesting occasion. As you know, Mandela spent twenty-seven years in prison and therefore he had serious problems with his legs. One day I was asked to take documents to him and to brief him in his residence. I arrived, there were no security guards, the only one who was there was his butler who opened a door for me. I said to him “I want to see the President Mandela to give him documents and to brief him”, he answered “Go up to his room”, but I said “I cannot go to his room, you know?” he told me “Don’t worry, he doesn’t mind.”. When I walked up the stairs, on the left-hand side, he was lying on the bed and a physiotherapist was massaging his legs. I was very conscious when they saw me walking in. And Mandela said “Young man, come here. Come and see your president lying on his bed”. How many people would do it?

– He was so open…

– He was open, great, you know, humanitarian. He loved people, he had a great love for people.

– Incredible scene, really. I think for our leaders it would be an interesting story. Actually my last question is: in what way can the Ukrainians learn more about the figure of Nelson Mandela? Maybe you can recommend some places to visit in your country, if they have such possibility, to read some books.

– We are always very eager to prescribe other countries our experience, so let me be frank about it. There are some general lessons that one can learn from the South Africa. First, you have to talk to everybody, whether you agree with them or not, you shall talk even to those people you do not agree with. And your President is doing that. Secondly, it is important to have good Constitution. The third aspect is the importance of the rule of Law and of the judicial system. The fourth aspect is that Mandela opened the economy for everybody to participate in it. Therefore, these are lessons that you can learn from the South African experience. We are not perfect, we are still dealing with the challenges from the past, but Mandela was very good in setting up an example for the future. Now when people talk, Mandela is always a reference point. They say “Mandela would have done this… This is that he would have said or done… ”. Thus, he has really become a benchmark. A very good example: he was summoned, while he was the President, to court to testify and he went to court, and many people said to him that presidents do not go to court, but for him it was important to set an example for the future that nobody is above the Law. So, there are many lessons that you can learn from Mandela’s life. And you will see them tonight and in some of movies within next few days. And also he had a great sense of occasion, how to use symbolism. One movie that shows this is Invictus. It is a fantastic movie about rugby. Or rather, the movie is about how to use the rugby cup to unify the nation. This is really something to see.

– Thank you, thank you very much.

– My pleasure. Thank you so much, thanks. 

It will be interesting:
Embassies of eight countries and ethnic national societies will celebrate NOWRUZ 2018 in Kyiv
On the 20-th of March, 2018, the Celebration of the International NOWRUZ Day will take place in the Column Hall of the Kyiv City Council.
The Spouse of the Ambassador of Georgia organized a meeting of the Ambassadors Spouses Club and the show of national clothes
The spouse of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Ukraine Irina Sultanishvili carried out a meeting of the Ambassadors Spouses Club, in the frame of which some traditional clothes was demonstrated.
Under support of Embassy of Switzerland to Ukraine the exhibition Swiss Graphic Design took place in the capital
In Kyiv ArtHall D12 under the auspices of the Embassy of Switzerland to Ukraine and personally Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Guillaume Scheurer the exhibition Swiss Graphic Design took place. Starting the event, the Head of diplomatic mission greeted everybody who visited this place, and wished to have exciting and inspirational time.
Conference ‘Belgians in Revolutionary Ukraine 1917-1918’ in Kyiv under auspices of Belgian Embassy
In Kyiv under auspices of the Embassy of Belgium and personally Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Luke Jacobs there was a conference dedicated to the 100-th anniversary of residence of Belgium armored division in Ukraine, exactly the period of revolutionary events of 1917-1918.
Play of Minsk Film Actor’s Studio Theater under support of Embassy of Belarus in the capital
In Kyiv academic theater of drama and comedy under support of Embassy of Belarus to Ukraine and Kyiv city governmental administration it was the play ‘Marriage contract’ of Minsk Film Actor’s Studio Theater. The performance was going in the frame of the tour in Ukraine.
In Kyiv Kuwait Day of Culture has started
In Kyiv on the 5-th of February Culture Days of Kuwait started. They are dedicated to the 25-th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries. All the events will go under the support of the Embassy of Kuwait to Ukraine and personally Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Mr Rashid Hammad Al Advani.
Diplomatic Cup of Nordic Skiing
The 4th annual Nordic skiing competition for diplomats and all comers organized by the Ukrainian Ski Club in cooperation with the Embassies of Switzerland, Austria, Norway and Sweden under the auspices of Fischer, one of largest manufacturer of skis in Ukraine, took place on January 28 in the park of the National Technical University of Ukraine “Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute”.
President accepted credentials from the ambassadors of Netherlands, Lebanon, Sudan
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko accepted credentials from the ambassadors of several foreign countries: Netherlands - Eduard Hoeks, Lebanon - Ali Daher, Sudan - Mohamed Eisa Ismail Dahab.
VIDEO. Bethlehem: perfect holiness
The Embassy of Palestine in Ukraine and personally Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Mohammed Al-Assad organized a trip for journalists to Palestine. OUTLOOK team was among them. We launch a series of videos about this country and start with Bethlehem!
Vitaliy Klichko organized diplomatic reception honor of New Year holidays
The mayor of Kyiv Vitaliy Klichko carried out traditional diplomatic reception in the city administration on the occasion of upcoming holidays, New Year and Christmas.
The Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine celebrated Saint Lucia Day
On the 13-th of December in Kyiv some traditional Swiss holiday, Saint Lucia Day, was celebrated.
The Embassy of Spain to Ukraine organized official events in Kyiv
On the 13-th of December in National library of Ukraine for children the ceremony of giving books happened. Afterwards, in the residence the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Spain to Ukraine Silvia Cortes Martin organized diplomatic reception.
The Ambassador of Kazakhstan organized diplomatic reception in honor of Independence Day
In honor of the 26-th anniversary of Republic Kazakhstan, in Kyiv the reception was carried out. In honor of this event in Kazakhstan as well as all around the world the important official and celebration events are going, such as conferences, round tables, diplomatic receptions.
In honor of 100-th anniversary of Independence Day the Ambassador of Finland to Ukraine organized diplomatic reception
In Kyiv it was the official reception coincided to National Finland Day. This year the country celebrated rough 100 years from the day of Independence announcement.
The Ambassador of Palestine organized reception in honor of International day of solidarity with Palestinian nation
In the capital of Ukraine the diplomatic reception organized by the Embassy of Palestine to Ukraine was organized. It was coincided to one of the most important national holidays in this country.
Charity Bazaar 2017 was held in Kiev with the participation of the Embassies
Every first Saturday of December, for the past 25 years, a charitable project of the International Women's Club of Kiev – IWCK Charity Bazaar) has been held. The main purpose of the event is to collect financial aid for Ukrainians in need.
One of the main Muslim holidays Mawlid was solemnly celebrated in Kiev
On November 30, in Kiev, was held a solemn event dedicated to one of the main Muslim holidays - Mawlid (the birth of the Prophet Muhammad). The Religious Administration of Muslims of Ukraine (RAMU "UMMAH") organized a number of official events to a significant date.
Presentation of the Eighteenth Issue of the Yearbook “Diplomatic Ukraine”
A presentation of the eighteenth issue of the scientific yearbook “Diplomatic Ukraine” dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Ukrainian Diplomatic Service took place on November 30, 2017 in the Hennadii Udovenko Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine.
Official reception in Kyiv in honor of 25-th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Romania and Ukraine
The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Romania to Ukraine Cristian Leon Turkanu organized an official reception in honor of the 25-th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Romania and Ukraine. As well, he set up the exhibition of Romanian artists in Kyiv called ‘Art. Traditions. Baia Mare. Maramures’.
The Ambassador Nurberdy Amanmuradov organized press briefing on the occasion of the 22-nd anniversary of Turkmenistan neutrality
The Embassy of Turkmenistan to Ukraine organized the brief meeting for journalists on the occasion of the 22-nd anniversary of Turkmenistan neutrality and acceptance of General Assembly of United Nations Resolution on announcement of International neutrality day on the 12-th of December.
Outlook facebook page