RU  UK  EN
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:
The Ambassador of Malaysia to Ukraine Dato' Raja Reza Raja Zaib held a diplomatic reception
A diplomatic reception was held in the capital of Ukraine to commemorate National day of Malaysia. The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Malaysia to Ukraine H.E. Dato’ Raja Reza Raja Zaib Shah received the guests.
Ambassador of Korea to Ukraine Kwon Ki-Chang held a diplomatic reception in Kyiv
Diplomats, officials, politicians, business elites and representatives of public organizations of Ukraine gathered at the InterContinental Kyiv Hotel at the invitation of the Korean Embassy to commemorate the day of the Day of the Foundation of the Republic of Korea.
Open Day at French Institute with participation of French ambassdor to Ukraine Etienne de Poncins
Saturday morning started brightly in Kyiv, at O. Honchar Street 84, where the French Institute welcomed its guests.
Ambassador Anka Feldhuizen held Doors Open Day at the German Embassy in Ukraine!
The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany for the sixth time invites everyone to visit the German Garden event every summer - a Doors Open Day when diplomats meet in their office and on the territory of the embassy with the the residents of Kyiv.
The Ambassador of Indonesia introduces Borobudur devoted to Independence Days of Indonesia and Ukraine to the capital
In Kyiv, in the National Botanical Garden named after N.N. Grishko the Borobudur appeared. The Indonesian Embassy on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the independence of its state and the 28th anniversary of independence of Ukraine made a symbolic gift to the capital.
South Africa Ambassador Andre Johannes Groenewald initiated a charity event for children
The Embassy of the Republic of South Africa headed by the newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Andre Johannes Groenewald, held a charity event in the Specialized regional Children’s Home of Boiarka.
Know Ukrainians: Eugène Deslaw
In our “Know us” column, we usually talk about outstanding Ukrainians who have achieved significant success in one area or another. However, our today's hero - Eugène Deslaw or Yevgeny Slabchenko is very difficult to fit into some kind of framework. As he reached heights in several areas at once, being not only the most real Renaissance Man of the 20th century, but also a patriot of his Ukraine.
The magnificent world of land-art: Patrick Dougherti
Land-art is not simply the landscape design but also the whole direction in art which in thee 21-st century considered one of the most important when only lazy people do not speak about the ‘green technologies’ and environment. The names of stars of such an activity have sturdily come into the speech of the tutors, critics, and connoisseurs, especially they outline Patrick Dougherti.
Ambassador of Egypt to Ukraine Hossam Eldin Mohamed Ahmed Ali held a diplomatic reception
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Egypt to Ukraine Hossam Eldin Mohamed Ahmed Ali on July 11 met the guests on the occasion of the national holiday. Representatives of the foreign diplomatic corps in Ukraine, members of the Government, heads of non-governmental organizations and embassy partners came to greet Egypt.
Ambassador Anica Djamić: "The numerous ties have linked the Croatian and Ukrainian peoples for centuries, and in the new time they connect our two countries - Croatia and Ukraine"
Diplomatic reception on the occasion of Croatia Statehood Day took place in the capital of Ukraine. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Croatia to Ukraine, Anica Djamić, welcomed colleagues from the diplomatic corps, government officials and embassy partners.
Independence Day of Belarus. Ambassador Igor Sokol held a diplomatic reception in Kyiv
On June 20, a diplomatic reception on the occasion of Independence Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Republic of Belarus from the Nazi invaders was held in the Column Hall of the Kyiv City State Administration.
Press conference for the International Day of Yoga at the GDIP Media Center
On June 18, 2019, at the GDIP Media Center, a press conference was organized by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of India to Ukraine Partha Satpathi to celebrate of the International Day of Yoga and the Festival which will take place this Saturday in the Mariinsky Park.
The Ambassador Elena Leticia Teresa Mikusinski held a diplomatic reception, the world-famous Argentine singer Gerónimo Rauch became an honored guest
The Column Hall of the Kyiv City State Administration on June 11 welcomed guests of the Embassy of the Argentine Republic to Ukraine on the occasion of a national day. The Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, representatives of the government and its agencies, partners of the embassy, the business community and the media lined up to congratulate the head of a foreign diplomatic institution and express their greetingss to friendly Argentina.
Indian tea. The Ambassador of India talks about the traditions of tea drinking
On May 29, 2019, under the auspices of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to Ukraine Partha Satpathi, an evening dedicated to Indian culture, cuisine and tea took place. The purpose of the event was the popularization of Indian traditions.
Know Ukrainians: Anatoliy Kokush
Cinematography is probably the most "technological" art form that mankind has ever come up with – no matter how much talent, imagination and energy creators of a movie have, almost every stage of creation process one way or another comes to technologies; and without them ideas will remain just ideas.
Turkmenistan initiative and UN support for the preservation of the Aral Sea
On the 28th of May 2019, the 85th plenary meeting of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly was held in the headquarters of the United Nations with participation of plenipotentiary representatives of the Organizations’ member-states.
Official Iftar of DUMU 2019. The slogan of this Radaman month is "Mercy"
According to many years of good tradition, especially to the beginning of the Holy Month Ramadan, the Clerical Board of Ukraine's Muslims organized a gala dinner - Iftar in the capital of Ukraine. The purpose of the evening was to emphasize the importance of the most important month for all Muslims...
Diplomats joined the charity golf tournament
The international Golf Tournament "Diplomatic Golf for Good by Volvo" was held on May 18, 2019, on the territory of Kiev Golf Club "GolfStream".
One more "Diplomatic Greetings" project. The Ambassador of Afghanistan to Ukraine welcomes!
Students of the "School of Young Ukrainian Diplomat" at the Institute of International Relations of the Kyiv National University Taras Shevchenko and the National University of Ostroh Academy maid a visit to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Ukraine. The event took place within the framework of the OUTLOOK and GDIP project "Diplomatic Greetings".
GDIP celebrates its 27th anniversary and the Diplomats offer congratulations!
On May 16, 2019, Embroidery Day and the 27th anniversary of the founding of the State Enterprise “Directorate-General for Rendering Services to Diplomatic Missions” were celebrated at the Kyiv National Academic Operetta Theatre.
Close
Outlook facebook page