|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS NELSON MANDELA PORTRAIT, UNVEILED AT HEADQUARTERS,
CAPTURES DIGNITY, PERSONAL STRENGTH OF AFRICAN HERO, ‘TRUE HUMAN TREASURE’
Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at the unveiling of the Nelson Mandela portrait in New York, 1 March:
There are moments that remain riveted in memory forever. Nelson Mandela, otherwise known as Prisoner 46664, walking out of Victor Verster Prison after 27 long years of imprisonment is one such occasion. Today we gather to immortalize that unforgettable day right here at the United Nations Headquarters.
Of course, I have to admit that I was initially somewhat awed by the prospect of this installation. Most Africans of my generation retain a very strong association with Mr. Mandela’s walk to freedom. I certainly have my own recollection of that moment and the indescribable emotions that it generated. I wondered whether it would be possible to have a piece of art reflect this reality.
Fortunately, for most of us, Mr. Beekman has delivered. This portrait captures both the dignity and tremendous personal strength of not just an African hero, but a true human treasure. I am hopeful that each one of us will relate to this canvas in our own special way, using it as a launch pad for emotions and aspirations we all associate with Madiba, as he is so fondly known.
Nelson Mandela’s portrait carries broader significance as well. He is synonymous with some of the highest values of our Organization, and indeed of all humanity: tolerance, equality, justice and forgiveness. These values have helped forge a rainbow nation in South Africa, and they can help inspire a truly United Nations here in this building. This is why I believe it could not hang in a better place. Its spot near the Security Council brings one of the world’s foremost voices for peace and justice to the world’s leading forum for international peace and security.
I hope that having Nelson Mandela watching over us will help inspire us in our daily work for a better, more just world. After all, that would be the best tribute we can all pay to this great man.
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