Tonight I attended the 3rd Annual Nelson Mandela Memorial lecture, delivered by Julia Gillard (Australia’s 27th PM, and first female one).

Gillard delivered a powerful oration, recounting Mandela’s life story, from childhood through to his Presidency of South Africa. She eloquently described his motivations and evolving philosophies, culminating in an inspirational life that remind us of how injustices linger globally, warranting decisive action and humanitarian solutions. In all this was an exceptional speech.

Prior to this keynote, however, there were various addresses from key sponsors, the High Commissioner to South Africa, and MP’s. Of particular impact, were the presentations from the Hon. Robin Scott, Minister of Multicultural Affairs and Adam Bandt MP, Greens member. Both spoke unequivocally of how a responsible Victoria would never tolerate racism and vilification

taking a stand against discrimination. And they specifically named African communities who have endured extreme hostility from the media and political pundits, seeking to point score. Their position was strong, eloquent and powerful. Above all, these comments were apt given the event, and more so in light of the latest campaign of the Victorian Liberal party, deploying a rhetoric of ‘Stop Gangs Hunting in Packs’. This appalling campaign targeting African communities is a move that has been widely condemned as inflammatory at best and provocative at worst.

As such, seeing a Liberal MP address tonight’s memorial, lecturing the audience on Mandela’s values of respect, inclusivity, peace and embracing of cultural diversity, was an irony not lost on the audience.