Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela

Today, is the ninety-second birthday of Nelson Mandela, a man whose humility and humble dignity has done much to advance the course of world peace.  Mandela’s immense achievements and role on the world stage are far to many to list on this small web log article, but clearly he has been one of the most influential political leaders in the last one hundred years or so.  He is a world icon, his role in the destruction of apartheid, his presidency of South Africa and his role as a human rights advocate have been well documented, but he has also done much to promote education and the study of science in South Africa and beyond.

The 18th of July has been declared Nelson Mandela International day. To commemorate this and, as it is his birthday, we wanted to reflect on his support for education and the teaching of science.  The Nelson Mandela Foundation supports a vast range of educational and science themed projects – many of them centred around South Africa’s particularly rich fossil heritage.

For example, the annual Nelson Mandela Science Lecture, held last November featured Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum presenting a talk on Darwin, Africa and the origins of our own species.  Although, perhaps as not widely known as his other achievements, Nelson Mandela has done much to open up the South African education system and to permit access to learning to far more people in South Africa and neighbouring countries.

The Nelson Mandela Science Lecture is a partnership project between the Africa Genome Education Institute and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.  The 2009 lecture was held jointly with the Darwin200 series of lectures, a partnership project of the Africa Genome Education Institute & the Division of Human Genetics at the University of Cape Town.

Just another example of the great man’s influence on his beloved South Africa and the world – many happy returns Mr Mandela.

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