Nelson Mandela Inspires a New Generation of South Africans

Today is Nelson Mandela International Day, which honors the anti-apartheid crusader and public figure. Photo from The Weekly Times of India.

Today is Nelson Mandela International Day, which honors the anti-apartheid crusader and public figure. Photo from The Weekly Times of India.

On Tuesday, Peace Boat US Director Emilie McGlone and the Peace Boat US summer interns (Michelle Terazawa and myself, Helen Hope Rolfe!) visited the United Nations in order to see an excellent documentary. Titled Ndiphilela Ukucula: I Live to Sing, it follows three aspiring opera singers at the University of Cape Town as they rehearse for a sold-out run of Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann and embark on apprenticeships at the world-renowned Glimmerglass Festival. Although Makudupanyane, Linda and Thesele all hail from economically challenged backgrounds, their extraordinary abilities and optimistic ambition constitute a bright forecast for the generation of South Africans that is now coming of age.

Of course, the formidable legacy of anti-apartheid leader and former president Nelson Mandela hovers large throughout these young people’s lives. One of the film’s most poignant scenes shows Thesele and Makudupanyane visiting Robben Island, where Mandela was long imprisoned for his activism. It is highly appropriate, then, that Ndiphilela Ukucula: I Live to Sing will air on television for the first time today, which is both Mandela’s 95th birthday and the fourth annual Nelson Mandela International Day.

Today, the UN joins with the Nelson Mandela Foundation in asking everyone, in honor of Mandela, to devote 67 minutes to helping others—because, as the UN website says, Mandela spent 67 years of his life in service to others “as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.”

Watch the documentary tonight at 9 pm on THIRTEEN/WNET in New York City and afterwards at http://www.thirteen.org/all-programs/. And you can learn more about Nelson Mandela International Day at http://www.un.org/en/events/mandeladay/index.shtml

Thesele Kemane, graduate student at the University of Cape Town Opera School, preforming in the UN General Assembly Hall. Photo by UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

Thesele Kemane, graduate student at the University of Cape Town Opera School, preforming in the UN General Assembly Hall. Photo by UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

This post was created and published by Helen Hope Rolfe (Intern from Peace Boat US)

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