The 2013 South-South Awards were held in Midtown Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel Sunday evening. The awards honored global leaders who’ve made contributions to sustainable development in their countries, with a particular nod to technology and innovation. The award recipients included Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, and Bahrain Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, but the primary focus was on Nelson Mandela, who, along with Madame Graca Machel, was honored with a Humanitarian Award for his decades-long struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
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Attendees cited South Africa’s first Black president’s importance at the event. “I think it’s something that makes me feel very good, and I’m very humbled to be part of this,” said legendary singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka (pictured above far right), who was born while apartheid was still a way of life in the country.
“For the fact that the world is waking up and honoring Mandela, because he is a man of the world, a man who fought his tormentors but came out here with a smile, I stand here very proud, because he gave me back my dignity.”
Speaking on becoming a part of the Mandela family, Josina Machel (pictured above far left) shared how loving her father-in-law is, “Papa has loved me and accepted me and taught me what really [a] father and daughter relationship is about,” Machel said on the red carpet. “It was about experiencing love. They’re very good human beings.”
“He holds no regret or blame to anyone; he’s someone that we can all learn from,” said supermodel Naomi Campbell (pictured second from left), who often refers to Mandela as “granddad.” “He’s got an amazing feeling, whether you’re thousands of miles away from him, he can feel if you’re not good and reaches out. I personally am extremely blessed and grateful and honored to have met such an amazing man.”
The awards ceremony featured performances by Les Nubians, Posse 2.0 ( talk show host Arsenio Hall‘s band) and Chaka Chaka, who sang in tribute to Mandela.
Watch Les Nubians perform at the South-South awards here:
After the honors were handed out, Machel and Zindzi Mandela (pictured above, second from right) came on stage to accept the humanitarian award on behalf of Mandela and the Madame.
“Oh behalf of my father, we are humbled by your recognition of the role that he has played as a champion of human rights for South Africans, Africans, and the global community,” said Zindzi.
“My father says, ‘The basic human rights for all our citizens have to be protected and guaranteed to ensure the genuine liberty of every individual.'”
“People like my mom and papa do not believe in words such as ‘no,’ ‘cannot be done’ [and] ‘impossible,'” Machel added. “Rather, they create, they recreate, they innovate.”
Machel also used the podium to share her mother’s vision for a better Africa. “If she was here tonight, she would humbly accept this award, but she would dedicate [it] to the millions of women and children in Africa and in the entire globe whose humanitarian efforts continue to sustain human existence, but whose voices are rarely heard, and whose achievements are rarely acknowledged.
“So for all those, I’d like to say, ‘Thank you.'”
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See more photos from the awards below: