Graça Machel, wife of former president Nelson Mandela, speaks at the Goalkeepers event in Johannesburg. Picture: Marvin Charles/Cape Argus
Cape Town - The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted its first Goalkeepers event in South Africa over the weekend.

The foundation invited over 18 young activists, social justice advocates and journalists from Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Cape Town and Durban to Johannesburg for the event.

The Goalkeepers initiative was started last year and focuses on ways to hold the governments accountable for meeting the 17 sustainable development goals that were set out by the UN General Assembly in 2015. The goals address the global challenges countries face including poverty, inequality and climate and environmental degradation.

“We have had a couple of events in New York and in a number of other places but the place that matters most is Africa. We have to take this from being abstract goals to something that feels very concrete to every individual,” said Mark Suzman, chief strategy officer and president of global policy and advocacy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Precious Moloi-Motsepe from the Motsepe Foundation, a partner of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the epitome of a goalkeeper was to emulate the examples Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu.

“At the foundation our biggest goal has been around poverty we want to help our poor communities in South Africa become self-sustaining and we have been doing this through educational programs and investing in tertiary education.”

Among some of the delegates at the event was film director and actor Tyler Perry, Nelson Mandela’s widow Graça Machel and UN deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed

“When we came to design the sustainable development goals we looked at what we can do differently. The process was inclusive and everyone participated,” Mohammed said.

The Goalkeepers community is a group of “next generation” leaders from across the world who can drive action, awareness and accountability on the sustainable development goals.

This includes people who act, communicate and keep leaders accountable to deliver on the goals in their countries.

Machel said poverty could not be allowed to continue on the African continent. “I have been privileged to part of the progress that had been made. You cannot rest knowing that extreme poverty will escalate.”

The Goalkeepers event in Johannesburg has been part of a wide variety of events surrounding the centenary celebrations of former president Nelson Mandela.

The event was a precursor to the #GlobalCitizenFestivalSA event which was held at the FNB stadium on Sunday.

@MarvinCharles

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Cape Argus