2014 Fellow Sello Hatang has been awarded the Keys of the City of Florence by its Mayor, Dario Nardella. Hatang, who is the Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, was awarded this special honour to recognise his work in human rights and promoting the legacy of Nelson Mandela. The award states: "To Sello Hatang, who carries out the challenging and luminous task of keeping Madiba's legacy alive. We share with him a long history of friendship and the ideal of an open society based on remembrance, solidarity, equality and respect for human rights."
Mayor Nardella reflected on the long histories of interconnection between Florence, Italy, Nelson Mandela and the Foundation. He emphasised the need to intensify the work during these challenging times of intolerance.
In response, Sello expressed his gratitude to the people of Italy in general, and Florence in particular, for their friendship, which has endured over 10 years. In reflecting on the solidarity between the two countries, Hatang quoted Madiba’s words in 1998: “In as much as we benefited immensely from the support of the Italian people in our struggle for freedom and in our political transition, we are keen to draw on your experience in reconstruction and development. It is therefore only natural that democratic South Africa should place such a high priority on developing all-round links with Italy. We appreciate Italy's contribution to the consolidation of our democracy.”
He also expressed his hope that the keys will continue to open doors between the two continents, particularly for migrants going to Europe, and asked his audience to reflect on the challenges that cause migrants leave their homes in search of a better promise.
Finally, Sello dedicated the honour to his organisation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, its Trustees, management and staff, and the Mandela family. Also, to his wife and children, for whom he said, allowed him to do the work that he does. And above all, Sello dedicated the honour to the memory of Madiba and to “all in Italy and South Africa who are committed to working hard to ensure that freedom reigns.”