Mandela Delivers Peace Lecture
To University of Maryland Audience
COLLEGE PARK, Md.
More than 10,000 people packed the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House last month to hear former South African President Nelson Mandela deliver the annual Anwar Sadat Lecture for Peace.
Mandela, whose name for many has become synonymous with peace and justice, discussed the war on terrorism and the importance of strong international relations.
“In a world where, as we are now witnessing, the pursuit of peace and the conduct of war sometimes coincide, it is absolutely necessary that our international and multilateral bodies become more effective agencies for conflict management, resolution and prevention, and in the fight against terrorism,” said Mandela.
He called on the United States and Britain, in particular, to lend their “strongest support” to the United Nations and other multinational organizations. He urged the United States and other Western countries not to assume their superiority to Muslim and Arab nations, because of their wealth and democratic government. Although he hopes that all nations will adopt a representative government, he pointed out that some nations such as Saudi Arabia service their people in ways not seen in the West — free education, free health services, no taxes.
Mandela’s discussion of relations between the United States and Arab nations resonated with the University of Maryland audience. His declaration that any campaign conducted should be “against terrorism and not against Muslims or Arab nations and people” and his characterization of those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks as “hypocrites” drew long applause from the audience.
Increased tension between American and Arab students is a topic receiving much attention on college campuses across the nation. A recent colloquium at the University of Maryland brought 20 Arab Fulbright students and an equal number of American students to the table to discuss their reactions to the recent terrorist attacks (see Black Issues, Nov. 22).
“President Mandela brought to light a lot of the thoughts that we’ve had just in discussions on campus about the things that have gone on,” says Keli Acker, a junior majoring in English and art.
Chris Griffin, a senior accounting and governmental policy major, found Mandela’s comments reinforced what he learned in the classroom. “He touched on a lot of the themes we talk about in our classes,” says Griffin.
For many of the students, the chance to see Mandela was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Melanie Medina, a junior marketing major, described the experience as “very moving
“Wow. He’s here. He’s right in front of us, and he’s speaking to us,” said Medina. She believes Mandela’s speech will make students more aware of the political world in which they live. “You are kind of caught in your own little world of what’s going on around campus or in the area. And there are these broader issues that are out there that we have to address.”
Griffin also believes the experience is a positive one for the university’s student population.
“I think it is good for the students here on campus to finally see someone outside of the country who has had an effect on world issues, and who can really speak from experience, not just from education or studying,” he says.
After Mandela’s speech, university president Dr. C. D. Mote Jr. presented him with an honorary doctorate of public service. Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening awarded Mandela with an honorary citizenship of the State of Maryland.
“This is a historic day for our community,” Mote said.
Mandela is the fourth official to deliver the lecture named after slain Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. Past presenters have been former Israeli President Ezer Weizman, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger. Anwar Sadat’s widow, Dr. Jehan Sadat, is a senior fellow at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland.
— Robin V. Smiles
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com