It is with deep sadness that we hear of the passing of Nelson Mandela.
As a school dedicated to addressing world scale problems, we have been inspired by Nelson Mandela, whose vision, persistence, and leadership has literally changed the world. The day Nelson Mandela visited Saïd Business School in 2002 to open the lecture theatre named in his honour was one of the great days in the short history of our school and will always be a reminder of our responsibilities to follow in his footsteps.
We are sure all the faculty, staff and students who met him that day remember the occasion fondly and vividly, and we send our condolences to the Mandela family.
On April 13th 2002 Mandela came to the School at the invitation of the University and Mr Wafic Saïd. A firm believer in the power of education to change the world Mandela said: “Education has always been dear to my heart. The emancipation of people from poverty and deprivation is most centrally linked to the provision of education of quality.”
He went on to describe his experiences to a packed audience which included many Oxford academics who had been active in the anti-apartheid movement. Richard Briant, Head of Administration at the time recalled the visit. ‘Nelson Mandela talked about his experiences and the process of reconciliation with great clarity and humility, in such a way that everyone in the audience could relate personally to what he said. After he had finished his speech the audience spontaneously erupted into singing Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica. It was a most moving and inspiring occasion and we were privileged that he came.”
During his visit Mandela said “To have a theatre at such a famous institution named after one is certainly an unsurpassed honour.” Peter Tufano, Dean of Saïd Business School speaking on behalf of the School’s community on the news of Mandela’s death said, ““The honour is ours. It was a privilege for the School to welcome such an extraordinary man and honour him in this way. He was and remains an inspiration for us to continue, in our own way, the work of the Elders, which was formed by Mr Mandela, to help tackle some of the world's most intractable problems.”
Left to right: Wafic Saïd, Nelson Mandela, Anthony Hopwood, Dean of the School 2002