(From left to right: Bob Lanier, Ruth Riley, Masai Ujiri, Didier Drogba, Carol Tshabalala, Amadou Fall, Isiah Thomas)
The Giant of Africa event opened with a star-studded red carpet walk before the Raptors took on the Golden State Warriors. Energy was high as sports legends, celebrities, models, and advocates for Giants of Africa and Nelson Mandela posed for pictures and answered questions for the press. Those in attendance included Didier Drogba, Drake, Demar Derozan, Kyle Lowry, DeMarre Carroll, Winnie Harlow, Jully Black, Isiah Thomas, Adam Silver, Amadou Fall and many more.
After an exciting game, guests gathered to watch Jully Black perform her extremely powerful rendition of Pharrell William’s Freedom – personally calling out Nelson Mandela and his cause during the song. The panel soon followed with Carol Tshabalala, Bismack Biyombo, Masai Ujiri, Adam Silver, Cameron Bailey, and Didier Drogba speaking to Mandela’s legacy and his impact on their lives and the lives of others.
During the presentations, an exclusive reveal of the much anticipated, Giants of Africa documentary, (directed by Academy Award Nominated filmmaker Hubert Davis) was met with a roaring applause filled with both emotion and excitement. Supporting artistic pieces were created for the event, making both the space and social presence something bigger and better than ever before. Giants of Africa created a social campaign displaying our red-carpet guests holding a special edition Madiba basketball with the hashtag #GOADreamsBig. Each photograph was taken during the event itself and was personalized to include each individual’s name.
During the final few moments of presentations, Masai paid homage to the women in his life, and the importance of women in communities around the world stating that, “Women are special in our society”. Ujiri also placed emphasis on leadership – something that motivates both him, the GOA team and those around him. “Be leaders of everything”. – Masai Ujiri
Throughout his final speech, Masai inspired us to do better and be better – saying that, “We have a blessing in Canada that we are so peaceful here”, and that we need to, “teach the world to be more peaceful”. Ujiri also drew from his personal life – sharing with the audience the immense impact his father has on him,”I grew up with Mandela – but I also had a Mandela at home – my father”. Final remarks included heartfelt appreciation for his teams at MLSE and GOA, as well as his mother, wife, children and friends.
Nelson Mandela is a truly inspiring icon and driving force for Giants of Africa and our mission. Our values are held to the same standard that Mandela fought for every day of his life, and we are truly honored to have hosted this celebration of not only a man, but the communities and people he has inspired.