Supermodel Naomi Campbell learned a few life lessons from Nelson Mandela, the late president of South Africa.
Campbell had the honor of presenting a tribute to the independence leader who would’ve turned 100 in 2018 at Global Citizen’s New York festival in Central Park Saturday.
“Mandela did not care much for tributes, and to me, he will always simply be ‘Grandad,’” Campbell shared about the political leader.
Her relationship with Mandela goes way back. On stage, the philanthropist remembered meeting the revolutionary in 1994.
As we celebrate the Year of Mandela, @NaomiCampbell is reminding us just how extraordinary of an activist he was. Thank you for sharing your stories of Mandela with us, Naomi, and see you in South Africa! pic.twitter.com/FEo8NgeAXX— Global Citizen (@GlblCtzn) September 30, 2018
After their meeting, Campbell organized a Versace fashion show in 1998 to benefit Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund.
She started explaining Mandela’s impact on the country: “He was bigger than the sun,” she described.
Naomi Campbell met Nelson Mandela more than once. He hugged her, called her his "honorary granddaughter". She visits Nigeria for a fashion festival and meets President @MBuhari, and some of you animals are slandering her.— tolu ogunlesi (@toluogunlesi) March 30, 2018
YOU’RE RAVING MAD WITH NOBODY TO TELL YOU. pic.twitter.com/f9hoAi8aPy
Campbell, who’s spoken out against the racial prejudice she’s experienced in the fashion industry, informed the crowd about the mark Mandela left on the country by destroying the systemic racial discrimination that ruled over South Africa between 1948 and 1994, known as apartheid.
“He did it all with very few words,” Campbell said of his fight.
“Grandad was charismatic and easygoing. His power came often from what he left unsaid,” she remembered.
“Madiba taught me, above all else, to be my true, authentic self. He taught me to be true to whatever I commit myself to supporting, and to stick to my integrity,” Campbell told the crowd before a moving clip of Mandela speaking at a rally played.
Kweku Mandela and Martin Luther King III joined Campbell on stage to ask the current generation to continue Mandela’s legacy.
“We must protect the rights of the most marginalized and oppressed. We must eradicate the criminalisation of poverty and race,” King III said.
Global Citizen Festival Mandela 100 will take place on Dec. 2 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The 2018 Global Citizen Festival in New York will be presented for the very first time by Citi. MSNBC and Comcast NBCUniversal will air a live simulcast of the Festival on MSNBC and MSNBC.com. The Festival will also be livestreamed on YouTube and Twitter, presented by Johnson & Johnson. Proud partners of the 2018 Global Citizen Festival include Global Citizen’s global health partner and major partner Johnson & Johnson, and major partners P&G, CHIME FOR CHANGE Founded by Gucci, Verizon, House of Mandela, iHeartMedia, and NYC Parks. Associate partners include Microsoft, Great Big Story, and One Championship.