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“Sport has the power to change the world” Nelson Mandela

8 December 2018

Nelson Mandela was proclaimed an honorary citizen of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, on 17 April 2008. To celebrate this icon and former state president of South Africa, on his 100th anniversary, a Diplomatic Basketball Tournament was organised under the auspices of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and in partnership of H.E. Bene Mpoko, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, H.E. Mikhail I. Petrakov, Dean of European Group, the SA Department of International Relations and Cooperation and St Alban’s College in Pretoria.

Photo: Ambassador Nikolic hands over a certificate to Mr. George Bizos.  Ambassador Kuveratakis of Greece is also pictured.

The event ‘Sport has the power to change the world’ was held on 7 July 2018 in Pretoria at the outdoor basketball grounds of St Alban’s College.

On 1 October 2018 an award winning ceremony was held at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The missions that responded to the invitations and selected teams to participate included Cuba, United States of America, the European Union, Zimbabwe, Serbia and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa (DIRCO) who emerged victorious  after scoring at the last minute in a close final with the team from the Embassy of the USA.

In his remarks Ambassador Bozin Nikolic of Serbia to South Africa emphasized that celebrating the Nelson Mandela Centenary “we are recognizing his humility, forgiveness, compassion and his contribution to the struggle for democracy and promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world. The prestigious honour bestowed on Mandela by the Serbians has made him a part of our life. Numerous books, pictures, art and cultural activities about this extraordinary personality are keeping his memory alive.”

Ambassador Nikolić, handed over a specially designed tournament trophy, in the presence of the guest of honour Mr. George Bizos and a number of distinguished guests, to Mr. E. Edries, Deputy Chief of State Protocol, and extended gratitude to the representatives of the participating countries. These were awarded to Ms. J. E. Lapenn, the Chargé d'Affaires a.i. of the US Embassy, H.Е. Mr D. D. Hamadziripi, Ambassador of the Republic of Zimbabwe, H.E Mr RE Benitez Verson, Ambassador of Cuba, H.E. Mr. M. Cornaro, Ambassador of the European Union Delegation, H.E. Mr T. Kaliyev , Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Deputy Dean of Diplomatic Corps (representing Ambassador H.E. Mr. B. L. M'Poko, Dean of Diplomatic Corps),H.E. Mr. M. I. Petrakov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation and Dean of the European Group and Mr. Sello Hatang Chief Executive Officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Expressing his gratitude for the Certificate of Appreciation and Participation Ambassador of Russia H.E. Mr. M. I. Petrakov said that Mandela’s inspirational figure played a huge role in the establishing of contacts between the Soviet Union and the African National Congress. The USSR’s contribution to the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggle of the South African people was never forgotten by Madiba.

Ambassador of the Republic of Zimbabwe H.Е. Mr. D. D. Hamadzirip quoted Mandela when he was on a State Visit in Zimbabawe in 1997 “Zimbabwe is to me a home away from home.”  Today, South Africa is home to many of my compatriots who, like Madiba, feel at home away from home.  The solidarity between us that saw Zimbabweans and South Africans share the same trenches during the liberation struggle must remain strong as we share the same trenches in the struggle against poverty and for development, he said.

Ambassador Bozin Nikolic of Serbia, having organised the first Diplomatic Basketball Tournament, bids farewell to South Africa and he paves the way for the continuation and expansion of this tournament in South Africa.




February/March 2020

















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