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THE GIANTS Of AFRICA – CELEBRATION OF NELSON MANDELA @Air Canada Centre (Dec 5, 2015)

Words+Interview: Sumona Roy  

Giants of Africa – Celebrating Nelson Mandela

Giants of Africa hosts several events each year with the support of several charitable organizations with the goal of raising awareness and creating partnerships with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The prime goal is to raise awareness and assist the youth of Africa to have an education and enrich their lives.

They wish to provide quality facilities, coaching and instruction of the game of basketball within Africa. They want to use basketball as a tool to create a pathway t for youth to open new opportunities and to better their lives with education as its foundation.


The tribute to Mandela’s life was honoured in-game as the Raptors take on the Warriors. To honour Mandela, the full Raptors and Warrior teams wore special, limited edition, Adidas shooting shirts and the coaching staff and front office of both teams donned commemorative Giant of Africa lapel pins.

To commemorate this special celebration, the Toronto Raptors team store, powered by Real Sports Apparel, will sell limited edition ‘The Giant of Africa’ t-shirts featuring Mandela’s five pillars: being a leader, fighting for freedom, creating a better future, committing to the community and using sport to inspire change. Fans were able to purchase these shirts during Saturday’s game with proceeds supporting Giants of Africa.

Each year boasts both intimate and large scale events, including the annual Celebration of Nelson Mandela: The Giant of Africa. For the second consecutive year, Toronto Raptors President and General Manager Masai Ujiri honoured his hero, Nelson Mandela, alongside some of the world’s biggest sports icons on Saturday, December 5.

To commemorate the second anniversary of Mandela’s passing, ‘The Giant of Africa’ held an evening-long celebration of the late former South African President and Nobel Peace Prize winner while supporting Ujiri’s non-profit organization, Giants of Africa, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

‘The Giant of Africa’ tribute celebrated Mandela’s life, legacy and ability to inspire positive change. Special guest participants shared stories and remarks on the impact that Mandela has on the world and how it transcends borders, cultures and time. The event will feature a panel discussion inside the Toronto Raptors’ practice court following the Raptors’ game against the 2015 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors.

Special guests included sports legend Didier Drogba, Donavan Bailey, Jully Black, from the Nelson Mandela Foundation and international models Alek Wek and Winnie Harlow. ‘The Giant of Africa’ event raised funds for the Nelson Mandela Foundation as well as Ujiri’s Giants of Africa charity with the goal of continuing to create growth and development opportunities for African youth.


“Dream. Its okay to dream and its okay to dream big.”


This is the message from the founder of Giants of Africa, Masai Ujiri. In 2003, African-born Ujiri decided to make a difference for kids in Africa using basketball as a tool. Growing up in Nigeria and playing basketball, Masai realized that there was an abundance of talent in Africa, but the players were often referred to as “raw”, and lacked experience in the game, as well as access to coaching and facilities.

Masai drew upon his experience as camp director for the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program to model the Giants of Africa camps. Today, the Top 50 Camp and Big Man Camp have developed players at the local, national, international and professional levels. Over 80 of the campers attended high school or university in the United States, and over 100 attended university in Nigeria.

In addition, nearly 20 former participants have played on junior teams in clubs throughout Europe. 30 of them have played on the Nigerian Junior National team, and nearly 55 have attended the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program in Africa.

The foundation’s goal is to improve the face of basketball in Africa. We aim to develop a program that will enable us to improve coaching, while granting earlier sporting access for youth through a grass roots system. We intend to place a focus upon upgrading sporting facilities as well as raising the quality of basketball administration.


A special thank you goes out to: Susan from Giants Of Africa for the invite to this event.

Images courtesy of bkonthescene

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