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Swati Mandela discusses the impact of her grandmother

PICTURED: Swati Mandela with Beatrice Nabulya and Marion Wadibia

SWATI MANDELA gave an inspiring speech at this year’s nOSCARS - an award ceremony which champions sexual health awareness amongst Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

The granddaughter of Nelson Mandela attended the prestigious event at The Hurlington Club in west London, where she gave a rousing speech that discussed how HIV has affected her family and the impact of her late grandmother Winnie Mandela.

Winnie, who passed away on April 2 2018, was at the forefront of Swati’s mind, as she honoured her late grandmother and proclaimed that “people would not know who Nelson Mandela was if it wasn’t for her.”

“This has been such a hard year but this is a reminder of my grandmother and what she did and what she sacrificed as we also celebrate the centenary of my grandfather,” said Swati to a packed audience. “It’s vitally important for me to tell her story and the fact that people who try to eradicate her from history, I say we're not going to do that. I stand here today on everything she did because she gave me my identity, she showed me and taught me who I am.”

Swati’s words moved the star-studded crowd which included singer Patti Boulaye, psychologist John Amaechi, Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, UK Black Pride’s Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, actor Hugh Quarshie and many more as they celebrated those who are raising awareness to sexual health services and HIV prevention.

During Swati’s speech, she also shared the moment she discovered her uncle Makgatho Mandela died of AIDS, and Nelson Mandela’s decision to go public with the cause of his death. “Thirteen years ago, my uncle died of HIV/AIDS. I remember my grandfather calling us to tell our family that we was impacted by HIV/AIDS and having the difficult decision to go public about this but he felt it was important to consult us as a family.

“And so we sat as a family and we talked and debated about what we should do. And so my grandfather - with such sadness apparent in his eyes - and our family decided it was in our best interest to disclose this.”

“My grandfather held a press conference and he told the entire world that “ I Nelson Mandela and our family had HIV/AIDS in our home.”

Swati said from that moment she saw an “ immense opportunity to lend my voice to a cause no one was speaking up against.”

“People ask me why do this, why care, but its because its impacted my family and I know what it's like. It's not just some fleeting thing for me because I know what it means for families to be impacted by HIV. The flipside of it is I think there are opportunities to prevent infection.”

The activist then commended the work that nOSCARS CEO Marion Wadibia does, saying: “I really command you Marion for what you're doing. One thing my grandmother taught me was that you must fight for what you believe in and if anyone tells you you can't do it - do it. I felt like I was sent here to inspire but i'm inspired.”

The nOSCARS certainly proved to be an inspirational night as many took home awards for their hard work challenging poor sexual health among BAME communities.

The ceremony, hosted by the hilarious Kat B, saw an uplifting performance from the Joyful Noise choir who performed ‘I’m Every Woman’, to a slew of inspirational speeches from award winners including Beatrice Nabulya whose contributions to meeting challenges that HIV presents BAME people spans over two decades, to Phil Samba who works tirelessly to promote PrEP and HIV prevention to queer men of colour.

Now in its seventh year, the nOSCARS, organised by sexual health charity NAZ, continues to readdress sexual health inequalities and use their voice to provide an authentic narrative for sexual health interventions that have been effective in BAME communities.

See the full list of winners below:

The Black African and Caribbean nOSCAR - Phil Samba

The Latin nOSCAR - Clinic S

The Faith nOSCAR - Inerela

The Global Impact nOSCAR - Verifie Health

The South Asian nOSCAR - Professor Rusi Jaspal

The Wellbeing nOSCAR - Daniel Thomas and Marc Morrison

The Woman of the year nOSCAR - Longret Kwardem

The Innovation nOSCAR - Nash Paragon Langley

The LGBTQI nOSCAR - MNEK

The Clinic of the year nOSCAR - Clash

The Media nOSCAR - Black Fly Zine

The Fellowship nOSCAR - Beatrice Nabulya

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