At a recent cultural programme evening Nrutyotsav, organised by Sarjan Nartan Academy, the Founder of “The House of Commons Book of Tribute Messages to Nelson Mandela” and organiser of the Nelson Mandela Book Charity Balls, Nic Careem, invited Jasu Vekaria MBE and Suryakanth Jadva to leave a hand-written message in the book.
Famed choreographer and dance teacher Neha Sachin presented an evening of Indian classical dances on 20 July at the Great Hall in Harrow, that was attended by eminent personalities Duwayne Brooks, Dimps Sanghani, Trupti Patel, Jasu Vekaria MBE and Suryakant Jadva, among others.
Designed to keep Nelson Mandela’s legacy to eradicate child poverty, in the hearts and minds of those in a position to do so, “The House of Commons Book of Tribute Messages to Nelson Mandela” has nearly 700 handwritten messages and signatures, collected meticulously by the Founder of The Blue Sky Village Foundation, Nic Careem.
“When I first created the book in 1999, it was designed to celebrate the life of a great human being in South Africa. The book was always supposed to be an opportunity to gather together talented and powerful people to bring about the kind of world that Nelson Mandela wanted to see – an end to child poverty and racial intolerance, and the alleviation of child poverty.
“The idea is to include not only powerful people, but unsung heroes, like Suryakant, who’s raised funds for children in Africa, and we surprised him by asking him to sign and leave a message in the book,” chuckled Nic.
“I never see the poor as a problem, I see them as an opportunity,” said Nic. “We want to empower the poor, not power over the poor. That is what Charity and Aid does.”
“The poor children of India are among the most talented young people I’ve come across. When you see a four-year-old trying to sell you something, giving you a steal to buy something; if you harness that natural energy with something positive, that child’s life will change forever,” said Nic.
The signatures from this unique book has been from prominent personalities across the world including President Barack Obama, Kofi Annan, David Beckham, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Richard Branson, Maya Angelou, Russell Crowe, Chris Rock, Kylie Minogue, Thierry Henry, The Spice girls, Will Smith.
Nic is delighted that two Hindu Gurus and numerous Bollywood and Hollywood Stars have also contributed to the book. Her Majesty the Queen’s poet, Andrew Motion, has also inscribed in the book a special tribute poem which he wrote specially for the book.
The Blue Sky Village Foundation is planning four Mandela Book Charity Balls around the world. The first one is in New Delhi in February next year. The charity raised from these will help keep Madiba’s memory alive and contributors to the book will be invited to host a table at the ball. All monies raised from the ball will be shared between children’s causes in the countries where the balls are held as well as South African children’s causes.
“We want to change the lives of children from ‘Earning to Learning’ – that’s the slogan we have. “These children have the means, but not the ability to fulfil their dreams and we will help to do that along with our partners in India.”
The book will be edited by Nic’s friend Janis Kearney, the former White House Diarist to President Bill Clinton, published annually, with the proceeds from the sales in each country going towards fighting child poverty in the country.
The aim is to publish the book next year and every year thereafter, Chirlane Mccray the First Lady of New York will be among those writing the foreword for the book. Each year’s foreword will be written by a well-known icon from politics, entertainment, sport and human rights.
The book is a great vehicle to gather together people who have the ability to bring about the change that we want to see in this world. “Both the poem and the song which I commissioned the legendary Joan Armatrading to write for the great man was performed to Nelson Mandela at the Peacock Theatre in London he came on the stage and danced to it with the Kingdom Choir who performed at the Royal wedding of Harry and Megan Markle.
“The song with the support of Paul McCartney was recorded in the same studio as the Beatles recorded some of their great albums,” confirmed Nic.
On July 18 2014, celebrated as Mandela Day, Nic organised the first Nelson Mandela Remembered Concert with some of the world’s top musicians and dancers performing, to remember a 20th Century Hero at London’s Roundhouse.
The Foundation’s aim is to use the funds to help set up education projects for its poorest children. They are the future and we have a moral duty to help them to a better future and continue with Nelson Mandela’s desire to end extreme poverty and hatred.
“I’m lucky to be able to do what I do for the love of it. I don’t do this to receive any awards or accolades. We all have the ability to enjoy the experience, get some value out of helping somebody improve and change their lives,” concluded Nic.
Smita is a multi-cultural freelance journalist, writer, and filmmaker based out of the US, London, Hong Kong, and India. Global Indian Stories is her brain-child. Created to chronicle diaspora stories written by Indians of all age groups, from different walks of life across the globe, Smita makes sure that the platform remains inclusive and positive.