'Free free Palestine': Mandela grandson shows solidarity at CHAN opening

'Free free Palestine': Mandela grandson shows solidarity at CHAN opening
The grandson of South Africa's Nelson Mandela chanted 'Free Free Palestine' during his speech at the CHAN games opening on Friday, also proclaiming solidarity with Western Sahara.
2 min read
14 January, 2023
Algeria named one of the stadiums after Zwelivelile's (R) grandfather, Nelson Mandela [Getty]

The grandson of late South African leader Nelson Mandela dedicated his speech to Palestine during the opening of the 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria on Friday.

Speaking from a stadium in the capital named after his grandfather, Zwelivelile "Mandla" Mandela made a fiery speech as he chanted "Free free Palestine."

"Let us…remember that Madiba [a name given to Nelson Mandela] said our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestine, therefore we stand together to fight for the liberation of Palestine," he said.

"From the river to the sea, free free Palestine," he chanted, at the backdrop of roaring crowds.

Before his mention of Palestine, Zwelivelile also called for the liberation of "oppressed" Western Sahara, which has been disputed by Morocco and the Algerian-backed pro-independence Polisario Front for decades.

"We say that, in his [Nelson Mandela] honour, let us not forget the last colony of Africa, Western Sahara, let us fight to free Western Sahara from oppression," he said.

Morocco controls around 80 percent of the desert territory, while the Polisario Front is based in the Algerian city of Tindouf and controls marginal areas of Western Sahara.

Algeria closed its airspace to all Moroccan flights in September 2021, a month after it cut off diplomatic ties with its Morocco, accusing it of "hostile acts".

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That was the latest escalation in long-running tension fuelled by the Western Sahara dispute and Morocco's normalisation of relations with Israel.

Morocco withdrew from the CHAN tournament as host Algeria refused to let the team fly directly from Rabat, making no exceptions for its 2021 ban. Moroccan – two-time winner of the CHAN cup - "regretted" the decision to allow politics to get in the way of sports.

As well as in the capital city, Algiers, the games will take place until 4 February in Algeria’s three other major cities, Oran, Constantine and Annaba.