Belfast Telegraph

Branson hails Mandela's legacy as he launches campaign to promote tolerance

Sir Richard Branson has called on people to follow in Nelson Mandela's footsteps as he urged redoubled support for global peace and tolerance.

The British business tycoon helped establish a group of international statesmen known as The Elders a decade ago. Former Irish president Mary Robinson is among its members.

The Elders, led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, have launched their Walk Together campaign, a year-long initiative to promote empathy, diversity and tolerance and "bridge the fault lines" of nationalism and xenophobia.

At a special event in Cape Town, Sir Richard said: "Mandela's legacy of moral courage and compassion endures to this day.

"It is a fitting celebration of this legacy that The Elders today launched this new campaign, Walk Together."

The Elders came together after a conversation between Sir Richard and musician Peter Gabriel.

They asked Mr Mandela whether a small group of people could use their collective influence to tackle world problems.

With the late South African president and anti-apartheid campaigner's support the organisation came to life.

It has worked to help build peace and heal divisions in Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel and Palestine, the Korean Peninsula, Burma, Sri Lanka, Sudan and South Sudan, Syria and Zimbabwe.

One of the Elders, Graca Machel, said: "Whilst this event is an opportunity to reflect on the past 10 years, it's much more important that we continue to look forward, and to work together in order to drive change at both a community and governmental level.

"With this in mind, we're hugely excited to have launched the Walk Together campaign, and to further inspire people across the world to work for the freedoms for which Madiba (Mandela) dedicated his life."

Attendees at the launch took part in a symbolic walk from the Grand Parade outside Cape Town City Hall, where Nelson Mandela made his celebrated freedom speech in 1990 upon his release from prison.

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