The City of Brussels on Wednesday paid homage to Nelson Mandela on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth. The South African national anthem rang out in the Saint Michael and Gudula Cathedral, the landmark Mannekin Pis (‘Little Piddler’ in Dutch) statue was clothed in a suit that once belonged to the first black president of the rainbow nation, and the South African ambassador was received at City Hall.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on the 18th of July 1918, exactly 100 years ago. In honour of this icon of the struggle against apartheid, the Belgian carillonneur Carl Van Eyndhoven played the South African national anthem in the Saint Michael and Gudula Cathedral, along with other African songs.
Manneken Pis dressed as Nelson Mandela July 18 2018
Manneken Pis then joined in the festivities by wearing a suit formerly worn by Madiba, the fond name of the South African leader, who died in 2013. South Africa had donated Madiba’s suit No. 703 to the Mannekin Pis, a centuries-old symbol of Belgium and the sense of humour of its people, in 2004.
“Today we realise that Mandela does not belong only to South Africans, but that he is a global icon,” said South African Ambassador Baso Sangqu. Alderwoman Karine Lalieux, Mayor Philippe Close and Ambassador Sangqu spoke before closing the ceremony.
The mayor wore a South African rugby jersey in honour of François Pienaar, captain of the national team, which was world champion in 1995. “That tournament represents, to me, one of the great accomplishments of Mandela and his fight against racism,” Close said.