A DELEGATION from Sunderland AFC has attended the official opening of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg.
South African President Jacob Zuma opened the multi-purpose public facility which will promote the legacy of Mr. Mandela and continue his ground-breaking work.
The historic event was attended by dignitaries from across the world, with Sunderland’s chief executive Margaret Byrne, commercial director and club ambassador Jimmy Montgomery representing the Black Cats.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation was established in 1999 to support the former South African Presidents’ ongoing engagement in promoting his legacy of social justice following his retirement.
Sunderland AFC announced a partnership with the charity earlier this year, a first for world football.
The partnership aims to promote the former South African President’s legacy, through the global reach of the Barclays Premier League.
President Zuma welcomed guests to the event and spoke about the valuable work being done at the Centre of Memory.
Sello Hatang, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory joined him at the event.
He said: “One of the things that he (Mandela) asked us to do was not to turn it into mausoleum. We are hoping that it will be a place that is lively and where people have a conversation and be able to access the legacy, as it were.”
On welcoming distinguished guests Mr. Hatang, thanked donors, including Sunderland AFC, who had made the project possible.
“This building is now a public facility – an integrated resource on the life and times of Madiba, a place where his legacy is open to interpretation and where we will convene dialogue on critical social issues and drive social change,” he said.
Ms Byrne, was invited to speak at the opening ceremony, said: “It is a great honour for Sunderland AFC to be here today.
“As the first football club in the world to partner with this amazing foundation Sunderland is committed to using football to help spread Mr Mandela’s legacy of social inclusion. We are privileged to continue to work in partnership with the Foundation as we continue our work in Africa.”
The event concluded with the ribbon-cutting ceremony, performed by President Zuma and accompanied by the Soweto Gospel Choir.