In just over a month from today, Constitution Hill in Johannesburg will be the venue for the 2009 South Africa Peace Conference which will focus on a number of issues relating to peace and harmony and the role football has played in achieving this.
The conference has some high calibre attendees which include His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and the latest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Martti Ahtisaari. Together they will be attending with the Nobel Committee and some of the South African Laureates.
South Africa's Hollywood princess, Charlize Theron, the newly appointed United Nations Peace Ambassador, will be part of the Peace Conference and the Gala Dinner. Morgan Freeman, who will play the role of Nelson Mandela in a movie about the life of the world renowned statesman, will join the Gala dinner as a co- host with Theron.
The Chairman of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Organising Committee, Dr Irvin Khoza, who is also the chief patron of the conference, hopes that it can put a huge focus on the country, not only as a host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but also the role that both the upcoming tournament and football has played and can play in peace and harmony in the country, the continent of Africa and the entire world.
"We have a huge responsibility to leave a legacy after the World Cup, and with this conference I hope we can focus and stress what we need to do in South Africa and in Africa to keep a country and continent in peace and harmony. There is no doubt that sport and football are playing, and need to play a role in this," Khoza said.
Football has played a huge role in bringing unity to South Africa and now more than ever we must show our responsibility as a nation, as a football family, and as a host of the World Cup.
Last year a delegation from South Africa, led by Nelson Mandela's grandson Chief Mandela, visited Oslo in Norway, to officially hand over the invitation to the Nobel Peace Committee. The invitation was signed by South Africa's State President, Kgalema Motlanthe and the three living South African laureates, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela himself. The Nobel Committee has accepted the invitation and will attend the Peace Conference in what will be the Committee's first ever official visit to an event outside Norway.
Since then, other Nobel Peace Prize winners and other special guests have been invited to participate in this event. "We are honoured and privileged to host an event of this magnitude and calibre of people involved," Khoza added.
"Football has played a huge role in bringing unity to South Africa and now more than ever we must show our responsibility as a nation, as a football family, and as a host of the World Cup. The event must be the most peaceful World Cup in its history with people from all nations intermingling in harmony as guests of South Africa."
Laureates attending the South Africa Peace Conference will conclude their visit to the Rainbow Nation by attending the Nelson Mandela Challenge match at the re-opening of the Royal Bafokeng Stadium where Bafana Bafana will host Norway.
"It's a fitting tribute and ideal way to end the Conference since Norway is the home of the internationally recognized and prestigious Nobel Peace Prize and was also one of South Africa's biggest supporters in the struggle for liberation," Khoza explained.