Raptors Celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 100th Birthday in Memoriam
It’s been five years since Nelson Mandela passed away, but Madiba’s legacy remains strong, especially among the Toronto Raptors. On Tuesday, Canada’s only NBA team was well represented at the red carpet and awards gala at "Mandela 100," a two-day celebration of the former South African President and civil rights leader’s 100th birthday.
The two-day tribute event—sponsored by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Giants of Africa, whose founder and president is Raptors President Masai Ujiri— began at Rebel Entertainment Complex in Toronto, with players Danny Green, Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and head coach Nick Nurse in attendance.
The festivities included a live edition of Serge’s YouTube show “How hungry are you?”, in which he served a less-than-appetizing protein shake to Hall of Fame center Dikembe Mutombo, actor and comedian Chris Tucker and South African pop star Yvonne Chaka Chaka.
Former Raptors All-Star Chris Bosh joined a panel alongside ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, footballer Didier Drogba, and Canadian supermodel Grace Mahary. They discussed their respective efforts in building communities in Africa and across the globe. NBA commissioner Adam Silver made an appearance as well.
Mandela 100 also included special performances (from acts such as Jidenna), open bar, hors d’oeuvres and a three-course meal. Tables began at $5,000, with access to pre-event receptions and tickets to Wednesday’s game between the Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers.
For day two, Giants of Africa scheduled a mentorship event, mini-camp and Youth Summit hosting 1,100 kids from the community ahead of Toronto’s home game at Scotiabank Arena, where fans could enjoy a special selection of African dishes.
All proceeds benefited Giants of Africa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. For Masai, a native Nigerian who had a personal connection to Mandela, the event served as another opportunity to extend Madiba’s message to the masses.
As Masai said, “The power of forgiveness is something we need to embrace.”
Olivier Auguste is an NBA lifestyle writer based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter.