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Soteni ’s Celebration of Hope on March 1, 2019

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Featuring former US Ambassador Pamela E. Bridgewater (RET) as guest speaker at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

The Celebration of Hope marked the closing ceremony of the “Mandela: Journey to Ubuntu” special exhibition at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Guests toured the stirring and inspirational exhibit, which chronicled Nelson Mandela’s life through his work as a young lawyer, his imprisonment and fight for justice and racial equality, and his Presidency as leader of post-apartheid South Africa.

Celebrating “Ubuntu”—I am because you are—was the theme of the Celebration of Hope, highlighting stories of perseverance and courage among those who continue to endure the HIV/AIDS epidemic in rural Kenya. Ambassador Bridgewater, who worked alongside Mandela as the longest-serving U.S. diplomat in South Africa, delivered a powerful message about her career in the Foreign Service, the importance of nonprofits like SOTENI in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Kenya, and what Ubuntu means to her.

“Ubuntu seeks to harness a collective will and to create a society free of poverty, hunger, and homelessness. Such ideals characterize the enterprising communities such as those in rural Kenya where SOTENI works,” Ambassador Bridgewater said. “Ubuntu places a premium on human solidarity, compassion, and dignity.”

Ambassador Bridgewater, who received her Master’s Degree in Political Science and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the University of Cincinnati, enjoyed a celebrated career as a United States Foreign Service Officer. She was the first African-American woman to serve as Consul General at Durban, South Africa, and served as U.S. Ambassador to Benin, Ghana, and Jamaica, as well as additional overseas diplomatic tours in Belgium and The Bahamas.

“Ambassador Bridgewater was very down to earth and motivational,” said attendee Markie Falotico. “She made the audience feel that there is hope for change and that no matter how small the contribution, we can make a huge impact”

SOTENI’s Celebration of Hope was presented with support from Presenting Partner the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and Supporting Partners the African American Chamber of Commerce of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky and the World Affairs Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.OTENI International presents “Celebration of Hope” – featuring guest speaker Ambassador Pamela E. Bridgewater (ret.) and special exhibition, “Mandela-Journey to Ubuntu” in its closing night at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

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