In honor of Mandela Day, U.N. Peace Ambassador and music icon Stevie Wonder paid tribute to Nelson Mandela today at the ceremony at U.N. Headquarters, as reported by the UN News Centre. Wonder gave a keynote speech and talked about how “overwhelmed with joy” he was to be a part of the festivities. Wonder said that Mandela’s struggles for democracy, human rights, and social justice was possible only because Mandela had given himself the highest standards of courage, integrity, and grace.
Stevie Wonder on Nelson Mandela International Day: "Be a bridge, not a wall, to peace" pic.twitter.com/AHpDNzKMqb— Mision Argentina (@ArgentinaUN) July 18, 2016
Wonder said that Mandela “set forth a model of behavior and sense of being, that is so very desperately needed today,” and urged everyone to follow his example.
“He has given the world a road map to follow in order to advance peace and social justice more effectively. We must follow it.”
Stevie Wonder, who is a “messenger of peace,” an ambassador of peace for the United Nations, pledged to continue working on behalf of people with disabilities and renewed an appeal for equal opportunity for everyone. Wonder talked about the violence that is going on worldwide, and called on countries to strengthen their efforts to improve technology, public infrastructure, and transportation services so that society would have more access to things others take for granted.
The U.N. Peace Ambassador also addressed gun violence and terrorism, saying that “wrong is wrong, no matter how you put it.”
Wonder urged everyone to have courage and be someone that Mandela would be proud to identify with.
“Be not afraid! Be the bridge! Not the wall to peace and understanding. Be the man or woman that Nelson Mandela would be proud to call his brother or sister in the struggle for peace and love.”
Wonder ended his speech with an a capella version of a song he had written only a couple of weeks ago that implored people to show love and compassion. He also said that “Evil is not of God.”
“Where is our song of love, where is the song of love, not a song of love between you and me, but a song of love for all humanity, where’s our love song…where are our words of hope…desperately needed words of hope…where is our prayer for peace, the prayer your soul longs to believe, not just on those urban blood-stained streets, but in every war-torn country where pain, hate and killing cease…”
Stevie Wonder has long been an advocate for world peace, as evidenced in the song below.
Nelson Mandela International Day was designated on July 18, Mandela’s birthday, in 2009 in order to honor him for his contributions to making the world better for all. Unfortunately, today we celebrate Mandela’s birthday on a day that has come after months of violence and civil injustice, not just in other parts of the world, but in the United States as well. South Africa asks its citizens as well as citizens of the world to try to do something — not just today but every day — that makes their community a better place. Perhaps if the whole world stopped to reflect on this day, humanity might make a leap forward.
Nelson Mandela gave 67 years of his life in order to change the rules in South Africa and make it more equal for everyone. Today people are asked to give, at the very least, 67 minutes of their lives — that is one minute for every year that Mandela gave — to uplifting their communities to make the world a better place. U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York today that Nelson was a man of “quiet dignity and towering achievement who worked tirelessly for peace and human dignity.”
Eliasson also told the Assembly that Member States should continue to seek building on Mandela’s example.
“Nelson Mandela continues to show us the way.”
[Photo by Mark Lennihan/AP Images]