The slow walk to freedom by South Africa???s great leader and freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, was remembered by Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, as he addressed the ground breaking ceremony last Monday, July 8, for the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park to be located at University Drive, opposite the new Keith Hunte Hall.

Minister Jones, who welcomed the idea of a park for students, asked that it be a place of “spiritual reverence and peace”, so all who visit would celebrate the legacy of Mandela.

Acknowledging that the slow walk made in February 1990 had persons from all walks of life all focused on the television screen and waiting with bated breath, he said, ???There were many awaiting the first words from his lips ??? ???let us take up arms and fight???, but they never came.?????

Noting that Instead, the world witnessed the emergence of this anti-apartheid revolutionary leader who suffered the indignity of the separation of races and the brutality visited upon a people and a nation, the Education Minister said Mandela would be greatly remembered for his slow walk to freedom, after being jailed for 27 years and for his pursuit of not only freedom and equality, but for peace.Commending the University for the Freedom Park, Minister Jones noted that Mandela must be celebrated in life and in his ultimate departure of death.

And, he stressed the legacy must live on as Mandela caused people everywhere to examine??themselves and to rise from the lowest points man could fall to, through the work of??South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established by the former South African President himself.??

“We can only calm ourselves and reflect on what manner of man was this and is this not to have drawn his swords and not to have mobilised his guns??? There is none other to whom we can compare him, particularly at that period of time,” Mr. Jones remarked.

The Education Minister urged that the Park not be consumed by loud music but rather be seen as a place of reverence and peace, so that all who visited would know the spirit of Nelson Mandela.???What he stood for should reverberate in that place,??? he said.??

Meanwhile, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, pointed out that Mandela had become for the world ???the quintessential human who laid down the moral and spiritual framework within which humanity can proceed???. He said of the symbolism of the Park that UWI identified it as a student recreational facility and would like students to understand ???that while they manage all the conflict around them, they [should] not forget the common humanity that binds us together???.

The Freedom Park is expected, in its design, to be a bridge that connects the older traditional campus to the newer one. Anticipating that it would be ???a beautiful space of spiritual reflection at the heart of the Cave Hill Campus???, Sir Hilary said: ???This would be the space where hundreds of students and staff in the years ahead would come to relax ???a place of serenity.?????

Ninety-four year old Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition in South Africa, nearly a month after being hospitalised for a recurring lung infection.

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