Guyanese ‘change-maker’ Jubilante Cutting cops 2017 Nelson Mandela-Graça Machel Innovation Award

Founder of the Guyana Animation Network (GAN) Ms Jubilante Cutting
Founder of the Guyana Animation Network (GAN) Ms. Jubilante Cutting

Young Guyanese activist and animator, Ms. Jubilante Cutting, is one of four awardees who on Thursday received the coveted Nelson Mandela-Graça Machel Innovation Awards for 2017 in front of an audience of almost 700 civil society leaders from across the globe. The awards ceremony was held in Fiji.

The Awards, named for human rights icon Nelson Mandela and former First Lady of South Africa and Mozambique, humanitarian Graça Machel, honour remarkable bravery and innovation in creating social change and empowering future generations.

The awards recognise outstanding efforts in four categories: Youth Activist, Individual Activist, Civil Society Organisation and Brave Philanthropy.

Youth Activist category winner, Jubilanté Cutting from Guyana, is pioneering the development of opportunities to help Caribbean youth shape the future of the digital and creative industries. In 2016, at just 19, she founded the Guyana Animation Network – an organisation that empowers young people with skills in digital media and animation.

“As a young Guyanese woman, the stories of Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel that I read about in my history classes felt so real but yet so far away. I could never have imagined that I would one day receive an award named in honour of these heroes”, Ms. Cutting said.

Other awardees included Khaled Elbalshy, an Egyptian activist and journalist, Civil Society Organisation category winner, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) and Guerrilla Foundation a German philanthropic foundation.

The four winners were selected from some 300 nominations from across the globe. They were honoured at a ceremony on 7 December in Suva, Fiji as part of International Civil Society Week. For the first time this year, the Awards were run in collaboration with The Elders – a group of independent leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights, founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007. Specifically, the Awards form part of the #WalkTogether campaign, catalysed by The Elders with civil society partner networks. #WalkTogether seeks to celebrate ‘sparks of hope’ like the Award winners, who are inspiring hope, compassion and empathy at a time when the dark forces of fear, xenophobia and hate speech represent a profound threat to global freedoms and unity.

“When my late husband and I first lent our names to these Awards, we had no idea that more than a decade later, they would still be going. I’m delighted to be joined by my fellow Elders in honouring the winners of the 2017 Nelson Mandela-Graça Machel Innovation Awards. We invite everyone to join us, to help continue Mandela’s long walk to freedom by supporting courageous voices working for freedoms all over the world,” said Ms. Machel.

The Nelson Mandela-Graça Machel Innovation Awards are led by global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, through the Civic Space Initiative. Together with CIVICUS’ SPEAK! campaign, the Awards seek to celebrate, promote, and defend the voices of ordinary citizens in ensuring a more just and sustainable future for all.