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Nelson Mandela with Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku on the occasion of Mr Mandela's visit to Marlborough House, London, UK, in 1993.

Nelson Mandela’s life lauded by former Secretaries-General

17 January 2018

The achievements of former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela have been praised in the latest edition of an academic journal.

Writing in ‘The Round Table’, the Commonwealth Journal for International Affairs, guest editor Stuart Mole honoured his life and lauded his work across the Commonwealth.

Also included in the new publication are testimonies from this period by three former Secretaries-General of the Commonwealth.

Mr Mole wrote, ‘The Commonwealth’s relationship with Nelson Mandela was both less – and more – than the history of the Commonwealth and apartheid. Mandela’s experience of the Commonwealth...illuminates some of the hitherto neglected areas of Commonwealth involvement in the struggle. And it reaches beyond apartheid to a Commonwealth spurred into a deep and introspective re-evaluation of its role and purposes after the struggle, as it worked through the legacies of the preceding five decades.’

Mr Mole, who is the former chair of the Round Table editorial board, added that Mr Mandela believed strongly that ‘a relationship with the Commonwealth can only be said to have meaning if, in working with one or more of its members, there was a clear desire to influence the organisation as a collective.’

The guest editor went on to write that Mr Mandela also played a significant role in the Commonwealth’s history, providing practical assistance on a wide range of issues. These included assisting the smooth transition to multiparty rule in Zambia, in addition to contributing to the question of widening the Commonwealth membership to include the entry of Mozambique.

Former Secretary-General Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal began his service with the Commonwealth in 1975, and was instrumental in campaigning against apartheid. Chief Emeka Anyaoku joined the Secretariat in 1966 before rising through the ranks to Secretary-General in 1990, which coincided with the release of Mr Mandela from prison after 27 years and his five years as president of South Africa. Finally, Sir Don McKinnon recounts his time as the fourth Secretary-General, during which time he was involved with Mr Mandela’s years as president, as well as his successor, Thabo Mbeki.

Mr Mole concluded, ‘Through the person of Mandela, the Commonwealth was able to reach further in the cause of racial justice. After apartheid’s end, Mandela helped point the Commonwealth towards a changed future’.