Posted on Thursday 29 August 2013
Dr Oben holding the House of Commons autograph book
Jude Oben, a consultant gastroenterologist and campaigner against child obesity, is the first medical doctor to sign a tribute autograph book for Nelson Mandela.
The book contains over 500 personally written messages. Previous signatories include three British Prime Ministers (Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron), international influencers (Kofi Annan, Barack Obama), business leaders (Richard Branson, Zac Goldsmith), celebrities (Paul McCartney, Kylie Minogue), senior journalists, and community leaders.
Dr Oben was asked to contribute due to his work with the Obesity Action Campaign to raise awareness of obesity and its adverse health consequences.
His messages reads: "As a young man, I jumped up and down many times to the pop group The Specials, singing ‘Freeeeeee Nelson Mandela’. Your pains and sacrifice have helped the world to see: Racism whilst not wholly conquered is now rightly condemned as indisputably wrong, inhumane and barbaric. We are learning – as another great man once dreamed – to judge people by the content of their characters and not the colour of their skin. The world owes you an unrepayable debt. Thank you Sir! We in medicine are now hoping that other major challenges which continue to afflict mankind namely disease, hunger and obesity will soon be on their way to being overcome.”
The book is being compiled by Nic Careem, an anti-apartheid campaigner, who decided in 1999 to mark Nelson Mandela’s retirement as President of South Africa. He approached Betty Boothroyd, the then Speaker of the House of Commons, for permission to create a House of Commons book of tribute messages. Permission was granted and Speaker Boothroyd became the first person to add her message.
The book will be presented to the people of South Africa at a special Gala Dinner in February next year on the anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release. Published copies will be available to purchase, and all profits will be donated to self-help initiatives across Africa.