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Commemorations for the 57th anniversary of Dag Hammarskjöld’s death

“In the footsteps of Dag Hammarskjöld”

On Tuesday, 18 September, 57 years passed since Dag Hammarskjöld and the 15 persons accompanying him tragically died in a plane crash in Ndola, Zambia.

To commemorate this and the legacy of Dag Hammarskjöld and his colleagues, the Foundation hosted and attended a number of commemorative events in Uppsala, New York and Ndola.

Uppsala

A commemorative event in Uppsala took place on Tuesday, 18 September at 16:00. This commemoration was a public event and we welcomed all who were interested in remembering the life and legacy of Dag Hammarskjöld.

Henning Melber gave a brief remarks on Hammarskjöld’s work and shared numerous illustrious quotes from Hammarskjöld’s speeches. He then invited guests and participants to share their own reflections on Dag Hammarskjöld and what he had meant in their lives. This was followed by some informal time for greeting one another and picking up a copy of Hammarskjöld’s On Castle Hill, printed posthumously, which one guest had shared about explaining Hammarskjöld’s love of his childhood and young adult home, Uppsala.

After, the group walked together to the Hammarskjöld family grave. A family member of one of the 15 who lost his life in the plane crash, laid the wreath on Dag Hammarskjöld’s memorial stone. (See more photos at bottom of the page.)

New York

In New York, Antonio Guterres and Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog gave short remarks during the Dag Hammarskjöld commemoration event on 18 September at UN Headquarters.

Despite the passage of decades, his light of idealism, integrity and action continues to illuminate our hearts, and indeed, the very soul of the United Nations‘, Secretary-General Guterres said. He finished by saying, ‘As we remember the passing of Dag Hammarskjöld — and look forward to the seventy-third session of the General Assembly — let us renew our pledge to advance peace, sustainable development and human rights for everyone, everywhere.’

Ambassador Skoog of the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN spoke on a personal note: ‘I wasn’t born that day in 1961, but my mother often described how the sky came falling down. There was a sense of despair not just for the extinction of those lives, but of a lost leadership in times of great change, uncertainty and confrontation.‘ Ambassador Skoog went on the reflect, ‘Dag Hammarskjöld continues to inspire. A champion of peace. An extraordinary sense of duty to his office, to the less fortunate, to the UN Charter, to higher moral universal force, courage and integrity.

Lusaka and Ndola, Zambia

The Foundation also organised and attended a number of events in Zambia to focus on Dag Hammarsjöld’s legacy.

Karin Abbor Svensson address those gathered at the Ndola memorial. Photo by: Swedish Embassy in Zambia

Following the tradition from previous years, an official commemoration to honour the life and legacy of Dag Hammarskjöld was organised at the Memorial Crash Site in Ndola (pictured right). The event contained speeches by a representative from the National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC), the Swedish Congo Veterans, the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, the Swedish Ambassador to Zambia, a UN representative as well as the Zambian Minister for Tourism, Mr Banda. An orchestra played the national anthems of Sweden and Zambia and two school choirs performed songs and poems. After a wreath-laying ceremony, the guests were guided through the site and visited the crash site museum.

Community outreach programme

On Wednesday 19 September, the Swedish Embassy in Lusaka together with the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) organised a Dag Hammarskjöld Community Outreach Programme at Lubuto Library Partners  – Ngwerere Basic School. The event gathered some 400 students from the school and featured speeches by a representative for the Library and the Swedish ambassador to Zambia, Henrik Cederin. There were also performances by Taipa Cultural Ensemble as well as Taipa and Lubuto Library Partners drama groups.

Lecture series at Copperbelt University

The Dag Hammarskjöld Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (DHIPS) at the Copperbelt University in Kitwe organised a lecture series as part of the Dag Hammarskjöld commemoration week. Karin Abbor-Svensson from the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation spoke about Dag Hammarskjöld and the International Civil Servant. A group of Swedish Congo Veterans gave a presentation on the topic 1960s Challenges of Peace Keeping Mission in the Congo, and reflected on their own connections to Dag Hammarskjöld. Further, Madam Olubanke King-Akerele, former Foreign Minister of Liberia concluded the lecture series with remarks on the legacies of the late Secretaries-General Kofi Annan and Dag Hammarskjöld.