#WalkTogether launched by The Elders and Campaign Partners in Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa / 18 jul 2017

On Mandela Day in Cape Town, a thousand people walked with The Elders and #WalkTogether campaign partners in a spirit of hope and unity. The crowd gathered in Cape Town's Grand Parade, where Nelson Mandela made his famous 1990 Freedom speech, to hear from community leaders from all around the Cape Peninsula. Graça Machel led the beginning of the symbolic walk to freedom, with a rousing address.

"We walked together with you in solidarity, conscious of the development and human rights challenges in South Africa, the region and the wider world – and inspired by your unquenchable desire for freedom. We are here as members of The Elders – the group of independent former leaders founded by Nelson Mandela ten years ago to work for peace, justice and human rights. In all our work we are guided by his mandate: “to support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair”.

"Freedom is essential to realising this vision of a better, more harmonious and peaceful world. It’s why Madiba and our dear brother Archbishop Tutu fought so bravely against apartheid; it’s why I joined the liberation struggle in Mozambique. The battle against colonialism and racial oppression have been won in southern Africa – but the battle for freedom continues across the world, and none of us can afford to be complacent. Today, we see xenophobic, nationalist and populist political forces securing their highest levels of support for decades, including in the established democracies of Europe and North America."

"Around the world, people are increasingly less convinced that protecting freedoms should be prioritised over promises of authoritarians to provide strong government and security. This needs to be challenged loud and clear. Without freedom there will be no justice, no prosperity or pursuit of happiness. When freedom is denied, dignity is denied."

"Right now in today’s world, 700 million children – the equivalent of the entire population of Europe – have had their childhood prematurely ended. They are not free to enjoy decent health, education, grow up with family and friends, because war, poverty, abuse and disease stunt their life chances before they have even begun to grow up. It is small wonder so many young people become alienated from their societies and fall prey to the siren voices of gangs, violence and extremism."

"Nelson Mandela understood this intimately and acutely. He knew that freedom requires a constant struggle, that campaigners could never rest on their laurels, even after securing great victories... his genius, what made him such a towering example of the best of humanity, lay in combining this unshakeable desire for freedom with the deepest sense of magnanimity, empathy and compassion towards his opponents and oppressors. It inspires all of us in The Elders, every day, to do all we can to continue his long walk to freedom."

"Taken together, sparks of hope in communities all around the world – courageous moral leaders who should be supported and celebrated - are a means of holding leaders to account, of speaking truth to power, defending rights and freedoms in the face of growing authoritarianism and division. But freedom also means responsibility for all citizens to engage in the public sphere and democratic process, not withdraw into apathy or virtual echo-chambers of the like-minded."

"Our struggle for freedom is both timely and timeless. As we prepare to mark the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth in a year's time, July 2018, we want you to join us in this journey. Let us walk alongside each other, following in Nelson Mandela’s footsteps to build a world of which he would be proud."

Watch the highlights from the launch