UKZN’s Acting Director of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies Professor David McQuoid-Mason delivered a keynote address at a virtual celebration for Mandela Day hosted by the Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE) and the New York Royal Institute for Global Justice.

The first part of the event featured McQuoid-Mason’s address, while the second session consisted of tributes to him from GAJE members from 23 countries in celebration of his 50 years in academia.

The topic of McQuoid-Mason’s address was: Nelson Mandela: The International Human Rights Icon and the Man behind the Icon – Some Personal Reminiscences.

McQuoid Mason shared a brief background of Nelson Mandela and how his outlook on life was moulded by being brought up by the Tembu Royal Family and his education at a Methodist school where he was given the name “Nelson”. As a result of his consistent stand against discrimination, and his ability to change prison conditions while in jail, he inspired the world to establish the Mandela Rules for Prisoners and Detainees. His outstanding qualities of promoting peace, reconciliation, equality, harmony and freedom led the United Nations to declare Mandela Day to encourage people to voluntarily serve their communities for 67 minutes without expecting to be paid. 

He then mentioned his personal interactions with Mandela when he (McQuoid-Mason) was Dean of the Law School, a member of the Mass Democratic Movement, and in his private capacity, and how Mandela consistently demonstrated the qualities mentioned above.

GAJE members paid tribute to McQuoid-Mason for his 50 years as a pioneer in clinical education, street law, and social justice efforts in many parts of the world. He was praised for being an extraordinary teacher and an agent of change, while others shared what a great impact he had made in their teaching careers.

Said Professor Ernest Ojukwu, President of the Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI) in Nigeria: ‘Professor McQuoid-Mason is the grandfather of clinical legal education in Africa. He has assisted law clinics and street law programmes throughout Africa and especially in Nigeria through NULAI.’

Professor Max Tomoszek, President of the European Network of Clinical Legal Education (ENCLE), said: ‘To me David McQuoid-Mason is an excellent example of a clinical legal education scholar and a legal academician devoted to social justice and quality legal education.’

Dr Mohamed Mattar, Clinical Professor of Law and Head of the Legal Skills Department at the Qatar University College of Law, said: ‘Your contribution to our training programmes on Clinical Legal Education in the Arab and Middle Eastern region is appreciated in Jordan, Qatar and Turkey and every other country where you were instrumental in establishing law clinics.’

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied