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Nelson Mandela’s 105th Birth Anniversary Observed in Kolkata

It was 22 years ago when Mandela was felicitated in the city after he was freed from jail in South Africa.
The International Nelson Mandela Day was observed on Monday in the city of Kolkata with much enthusiasm.

That felicitation ceremony and that visit was mentioned various times by Nelson Mandela in his memoirs afterwards.

Kolkata: The International Nelson Mandela Day was observed on Monday in the city of Kolkata with much enthusiasm. It was on October 18, 1990 that in the Eden Gardens stadium in the presence of then Prime MInister VP Singh, Chief Minister Jyoti Basu and Governor Syed Nurul Hasaan, that Nelson Mandela was felicitated months after he was freed from jail in South Africa.

The then Kolkata Mayor Prasanta Chatterjee was instrumental behind this programme and had also announced the making of a park dedicated to Nelson Mandela in Kolkata.

That felicitation ceremony and that visit was mentioned various times by Nelson Mandela in his memoirs afterwards.

Right now, this park is in a poor state. On Monday, in a programme before the Nelson Mandela park, All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO) leader Rabin Deb condemned the present condition of the Nelson Mandela park and said that the Kolkata Corporation in its own hands is destroying its international reputation and the honour that it got after bestowing Mandela with the honour.

Speaking on occasion in the programme announced by the state committee of AIPSO, Deb said that in 1994 before taking oath as the president of South Africa, Mandela in his interview to international media had hailed his Kolkata visit as a memorable episode of his life.

It can be recalled that in February 1990, after 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela was freed from prison. That year Mandela came to Kolkata on a visit. There was a lot of interest generated in Kolkata’s people about the visit.

The photos of that tour were also widely published in the international media. Speaking at Wednesday’s event Deb said that the present board of Kolkata corporation is trying to forget the brilliant past of the city and the time of its international glory.

He said that in the year 2021 too Debasish Kumar, Mayor in Council of Kolkata corporation in charge of parks was served with a letter from AIPSO requesting him to act promptly in this regard. Even the present Kolkata mayor too was informed of the situation.

Earlier Deb in his speech highlighted Kolkata’s link with the anti-apartheid movement and recalled the historical rally organised in Shahid Minar grounds demanding the immediate release of Nelson Mandela, which was also addressed by African National Congress leader Musa Mulla and Jyoti Basu.

He also highlighted the different quotes made by Mandela in his speech.

Anjan Bera, general secretary of AIPSO West Bengal unit said that Nelson Mandela’s works and life are still of much relevance to the formation of true India. “He is the emblem of relentless struggle and an inspiration for the liberation of mankind,” he said.

Susnato Das of Rabindra Bharati University too spoke in the programme which saw songs by IPTA artistes like Kaji Kamal Naser and Pijush Dhar.

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