Dubai: Respect, recognition of human dignity and willingness to understand the views of others are essential life skills, said a humanitarian at a talk titled ‘The Mandela I Knew’ at the sixth World Government Summit (WGS 2018) on Tuesday.
Graça Machel (HonFBA), chair of The Graça Machel Trust and widow of former South African President Nelson Mandela, offered a moving tribute to her late husband and urged the audience to understand what drives others and accept that everyone’s view is valid.
“Nelson Mandela had the ability to connect with people, even when it seemed to be in an intractable situation, and to recognise the dignity in every single person. He had great strength, ability and determination to reach people and to understand what drives them. For him, it was a necessity to understand others. You cannot build bridges successfully without the understanding and recognition that there is no one ‘right’ view,” she said.
Asked about what she sees to be Mandela’s legacy, Machel said: “In times of conflict we forget that there’s a human life on the other side. This understanding enabled Mandela to transcend the different social, political and tribal differences across South Africa.”
She pointed out that in our current times, with the world divided by war, people should learn from Mandela’s commitment of reaching the human being behind the cause.
“We have to try to understand what is driving those who want conflict, and those who are fuelling conflict — who are often the more dangerous. In negotiations, one must recognise that there is no one single truth and one must have the ability and willingness to understand the views of others,” she explained.
Machel, an African icon in her own right, has championed the cause of peace and is a passionate advocate for the rights of women and children.