Carillon joins global commemoration of Mandela’s 100th

Wednesday at noon, a UC Berkeley carillon concert will join a worldwide celebration of anti-apartheid leader and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela, who would have turned 100 that day. The South African president’s government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalized racism and fostering racial reconciliation.

bells

A carillon concert at noon on July 18 will honor Nelson Mandela on what would be his 100th birthday. (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

The Belgian embassy in South Africa, the Flemish Carillon Association and the Walloon Campanological Association have invited all carillonists in the world to take part and play South African songs.

At UC Berkeley, Leslie Chan, a student of University Carillonist Jeff Davis, will perform the national anthem of South Africa, an anti-apartheid South African folk song called What Have We Done?, and the South African hymn Siyahamba (We Are Marching).

Nelson Mandela photo courtesy of Republic of South Africa photo gallery

(Nelson Mandela photo courtesy of Republic of South Africa photo gallery)

Nelson Mandela International Day, also called Mandela Day, is celebrated annually on July 18. During the centennial, activities are scheduled to take place worldwide, including:

  • Former U.S. President Barack Obama delivering the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg on Tuesday. A New York Times article reported that Obama “views this as the most important speech he has given since leaving the White House, one that will set the tone for his post-presidency.” Mandela was a beacon to Mr. Obama, inspiring what he once said was his first act of political activism — a speech he gave as a student at Occidental College for the anti-apartheid movement.
  • An international art tour of a series of paintings by South African artist John Meyer that depict Mandela’s life and include film and sound. The tour starts in September in Melbourne, Australia.
  • A Global Citizen Festival on Dec. 2 at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, with scheduled performers including Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Ed Sheeran, Chris Martin and Usher. Free tickets can be earned by those who take action to end extreme poverty.

In 1990, Mandela thanked UC Berkeley students and faculty, calling them his “blood brothers and sisters” for their successful efforts toward ending apartheid, when he visited Oakland after his release from 27 years in prison. They had demanded an end to UC’s investments in companies doing business with South Africa, and their activism inspired cities and schools across the country to also divest.

After his death on Dec. 5, 2013, Mandela was honored on Sproul Plaza at a Berkeley campus and community gathering. The campus also held a special event in April 2014 to celebrate his legacy.