Six Elders walked from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square in London on 23 October. (Credit: The Elders)
On 23 October, six Elders joined young leaders in a symbolic walk through central London for peace, tolerance and solidarity.
Leading a crowd of several hundred young people, civil society activists, peace workers and volunteers, Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-Moon, Graça Machel, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Ricardo Lagos and Ernesto Zedillo walked from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square, where they laid peace candles at the statue of their founder, Nelson Mandela.
Kofi Anna addresses the crowd in Trafalgar Square. (Credit: The Elders)
Young leaders from the British Council’s Future Leaders Connect programme and activists joined the Elders on the steps of Trafalgar Square prior to the walk, where Kofi Annan and Graça Machel addressed the crowd.
Kofi Annan noted the historical significance of their location, as a place where protestors gathered over many years to demand the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and where, in 1996, Mandela himself, released from prison and the democratically elected President of South Africa, addressed a huge crowd to celebrate his freedom. Kofi Annan then spoke of the importance of following Mandela’s values during troubled and turbulent times:
“Only collective action and cooperation can meet global challenges, from climate change to nuclear proliferation, and only solidarity can protect fundamental human rights and freedoms from tyrants and abusers.”
Graca Machel places a candle at the statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square. (Credit: The Elders)
Graça Machel spoke about the meaning of peace and the power of collective action:
“We stand here today in London and across the world as a sea of human dignity defenders. We possess the force of an ocean, and can overpower that which does not move us forward along our path to freedom and justice for all. And if our struggle is to be successful, then Madiba’s values must lie at its heart.”
Lakhdar Brahimi and Martti Ahtisaari debate pathways to peace with members of the British Council's Future Leaders Connect Programme. (Credit: The Elders)
Following the walk, The Elders held a public event in partnership with the British Council, in Church House, Westminster. The event brought together Elders and members of the British Council’s Future Leaders Connect programme, a group of emerging policy makers from 11 countries, in a rich debate on how to build peace and bridge political, economic, social and ethnic divides. The young leaders then invited the audience to #WalkTogether with a ‘Spark of Hope’, an organisation of their choice challenging division, hatred and xenophobia and espousing compassion and empathy.
These events were the third in a series of planned events forming part of the #WalkTogether campaign, which was launched in Cape Town earlier this year, and will run until 18th July 2018, the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.
The livestream of the event can be watched here