THE world famous Soweto Gospel Choir of South Africa will sing songs of freedom in Parliament Square today, in celebration of The Bahamas’ role in freeing former South African President Nelson Mandela from prison.
This month marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Nassau Accord, and the Grammy Award-winning group made its first trip to the Bahamas to commemorate the historic occasion.
The Nassau Accord was signed by 45 leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Nassau on October 20, 1985.
The package of sanctions and inducements increased pressure on the South African government to dismantle its system of racial segregation. It is hailed as the key step toward ending apartheid in South Africa and securing Mr Mandela’s release from prison.
Among the songs being performed, the Soweto Gospel Choir will include a selection of Mr Mandela’s favourite hymns.
Patricia Bazard, director of the Bahamas Children Choir, hosted the Soweto Choir in a people-to-people experience.
Diniloxolo Ndlakuse, the choir director of Soweto Choir, said this is his first time in The Bahamas and he’s enjoying the weather, the surroundings and the people. He vowed to come back next year.
“It’s been a nice experience. One thing for sure it is so awesome. Music is universal language and it has the power to create and to unite. Coming here to share music, dance and love for God is very awesome,” Mr Ndlakuse said. “Mandela played a really huge role. He was arrested in 1964 so that when he was released we were all liberated. He opened the doors for us to mingle with people around the world so it is an honour for us to be a part of this event.”
The Ministry of Tourism has signed on as the host sponsor of the Caribbean Muzik Festival, which will this year commemorate a momentous milestone in the history of The Bahamas.
On October 20, 1985, Commonwealth leaders gathered in Nassau to sign the accord. Then Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling was chairman of CHOGM at the time and led the charge. Sir Lynden is credited with persuading the majority of heads of senior Commonwealth members to support the position.
Sir Lynden was appointed to the Eminent Persons Group, which was established by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The EPG visited South Africa in 1986 and reported on the situation there, reinforcing the call for sanctions against South Africa.
The economic sanctions against South Africa articulated in the Nassau Accord set off a chain of events that would eventually lead to the abolition of apartheid and the first democratic general elections in South Africa in 1994.
On February 11, 1990, Mr Mandela was released from prison, and soon after, visited The Bahamas, to thank Sir Lynden for the critical role that he had played in the process.
Caribbean Muzik Festival has dedicated the second night of the four-day festival to the celebration of Bahamian history and culture. Organisers will also highlight The Bahamas’ ties to South Africa.
Several dignitaries from South Africa and other Commonwealth countries have been invited to attend the event.