The Elders, a group of independent global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007,   today honoured the centenary of the birth of their founder, by commemorating a 100 Sparks of Hope Peace Park in Johannesburg’s Delta Park. 100 trees were planted in a new exhibit representing 100 grassroots organisations that The Elders have selected from South Africa, and other countries in Africa and around the world for their demonstration of moral leadership in the spirit of Mandela’s legacy.

The organisations featured in the new park were identified by The Elders through their campaign #WalkTogether – Continue Mandela’s long walk to freedom. Over 30 of those selected are from the African continent.

Graça Machel and Mary Robinson of The Elders attended the ceremony in Delta Park, Johannesburg, together with Sir Richard Branson, Patron of The Elders; Joburg Parks Managing Director Bryne Maduka; dignitaries, business leaders and representatives of 100 “Sparks of Hope” grassroots groups from across Africa and the rest of the world.

Graça Machel, co-founder of The Elders with Nelson Mandela and global advocate for equality and women’s rights, said:

“You Sparks of Hope give us great confidence that, despite the challenges we face, you are fearless, courageous and determined. This park honours you and your organisations, but it also serves as a reminder of Madiba’s words: ‘to be free is to enhance the freedom of others.’”

Mary Robinson, Elder, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, added:

“We knew that the collective spirit of leadership Madiba exemplified lived on in grassroots communities around the world, often out of view of the media and those who need hope and inspiration. And so we committed to presenting 100 of the best examples of collective moral leadership from civil society towards Madiba’s 100th anniversary. We have shone a light on grassroots efforts that are succeeding in building peace, achieving access to health for all, and fighting for access to justice and greater equality.”

The Elders are a group of independent leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela to work for peace, human rights and justice. To mark Mandela’s centenary, they are championing “Sparks of Hope” across all aspects of civil society: peacemakers, human right campaigners, justice defenders, advocates for an end to sexual violence, LGBT rights fighters, community health workers and more.

The Elders will continue their celebratory events in Johannesburg with a symbolic walk and speaker event at Constitution Hill on 18 July 2018, live-streamed to a global audience.