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Message from ABU Secretary-General Dr Javad Mottaghi

ABU Secretary-General Dr Javad Mottaghi has paid tribute on behalf of the Union to “saintly giant” Nelson Mandela who was instrumental in setting the SABC on course to become a public service broadcaster, representative of all the people of South Africa.

“Although this saintly giant is no longer with us, his legacy of humility, forgiveness and tolerance as well as his triumph over tragedy will continue to inspire humanity for generations to come,” Dr Mottaghi said.

“A gentle giant in all senses of the word, Mandela’s life symbolized the triumph of the human spirit over grave adversity. Madiba, as his people affectionately called him, suffered harsh imprisonment for 27 years but never took revenge on his oppressors.

Dr Mottaghi said he fought the principles of apartheid system, not its human machine.

“Mandela combined the highest qualities of moral courage and humility, leading its country from the evils of apartheid to a peaceful co-existence,” Dr Mottaghi went on. “It was an example he set from the moment he took those last few steps of his ‘Long Walk To Freedom’ with great dignity and that trademark smile on his face in front of the world’s cameras on 11 February 1990.

Dr Mottaghi said Mr Mandela successfully set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and in doing so provided a role model for all bitterly divided nations.

“The work of the Commission, headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was broadcast live on South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which helped enormously in healing the deep wounds from the past,” Dr Mottaghi continued.

“Mandela also revolutionized the SABC, appointing Zwalake, the son of his close friend and mentor Walter Sisulu, to be its first black Director-General. SABC was converted from being the propaganda machine of an oppressive government into a democratic public broadcaster which includes blacks, whites and coloured, including the substantial minority of South African Indians, for the first time.”

Dr Mottaghi added that Mr Mandela created a “rainbow” nation and a truly “rainbow” broadcasting service which has served as a model for change in Africa.