On January 13th 2017, the British Museum, in collaboration with the South African High Commission, hosted a special event entitled ‘Memories of Mandela’ to celebrate the enduring legacy of the South African leader on his nation and the world.
The distinguished panel of speakers, whose lives and careers were influenced by Mandela, included CCELAT Chair of Trustees, John Battersby, former CCELAT Trustee, Lord Joel Joffe CBE and CCELAT alumna, Pumela Salela.
John Battersby, who is a former editor of The Sunday Independent in Johannesburg, was the very first person to shake Mandela’s hand after his release from prison and he interviewed him many times in the following years. He reminisced about Mandela’s humanity, spirituality, and his unique ability to see the “extraordinary” in the “ordinary”.
Pumela Salela met Mandela after being awarded a Canon Collins Nelson Mandela Scholarship to study for an MBA in the UK. She was particularly inspired by his commitment to scholarship and education and she credits Mandela with inspiring her to change career paths, moving towards a role that allows her to represent her country. Pumela is now the UK Country Head of Brand South Africa.
Lord Joffe gave a remarkable speech, reflecting on the “indomitable courage” and dignity displayed by Mandela and his co-defendants whom he represented at the Rivonia Trial of 1963. He recalled the power of Mandela’s iconic address to the court where he boldly proclaimed (against his lawyer’s advice) that democracy and equality were ideals for which he was prepared to die.