Newsletter May 2015

Tributes to Nelson Mandela

Written by pat_perkel

“The inexorable march for freedom”

Excerpts from a statement by the Rwanda People’s Party

“He helped drag South Africa from the shackles of racist apartheid and pushed it onto a path of peace and reconciliation. Despite decades in captivity and persistent persecution he endured at the hands of white minority rule, Mandela’s spirit and determination never wavered. He saw the South Africa he was born in as an oppressed nation, occupied by and a racist minority apartheid regime that lacked neither moral nor political legitimacy. The liberation of the black oppressed people of South Africa therefore became his one and lasting abiding dream, which he was determined to help achieve in his life time.

For his commitment to the cause of the liberation of his people, he was considered a terrorist, hunted down like a dangerous animal, tortured and harassed and then eventually incarcerated in the notorious RobbenIsland prison to serve a life sentence. He served this life sentence with equal determination, refusing to allow his spirit to be broken, and through his suffering and sacrifice, inspired millions of South Africans, black and white, to rise up and claim a different political path for the country, that of national reconciliation and through which a peaceful transfer of power through democratic means became possible.

…President Mandela will also be remembered for showing immense grace, fortitude and magnanimity in establishing a government of national reconciliation. He led by example, showing a people riven by hatred and animosity, a consequence of having been forced to live in a climate of hatred, mistrust and mutual suspicion in an environment in which state terrorism was the norm, that it was still possible to rediscover their common humanity.

…The Rwanda People’s Party (RPP), joins hands together in solidarity with the whole of Africa in mourning the loss of a great leader. We re-dedicate ourselves to the hopes and dreams that Mandela epitomises and dance to the drum-beats of freedom and national liberation that echo and resonate melodiously and relentlessly in our hearts. Long may last the torch of freedom that Nelson Mandela lit.

John V Karuranga, President Rwanda People’s Party

“He made our troubled age less shameful”

by Sir Shridath Ramphal, Commonwealth Secretary-General, 1975-1990

Tomorrow’s children will not be able to say, as we can with pride and a deep sense of privilege, that we lived in the time of Nelson Mandela, a unique and memorable human being. ‘Madiba’ has gone from us; but he is part of eternity and will always belong to the entire world. His indomitable spirit will forever inspire people in pursuit of freedom and justice; his humanity will be a beacon for all who are wronged. He made our troubled age less shameful by his own nobility.

He enriched my own life by the small part I played, as Commonwealth Secretary-General, in restoring him to freedom – even though he showed that truly “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage”.

That my official Commonwealth residence was the one he came to when first he came to London, after his release from prison, to meet those who fought with him against apartheid and the injustices of the apartheid regime, will forever be a badge of honour for the Commonwealth.

“This courageous leader”

by Mohammed Garba, FAJ president

The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) mourns the passage of one of the world’s most inspirational leaders, Nelson Mandela, which sad event occurred at the age of 95.

FAJ recalls with all sense of respect and admiration, this courageous leader who despite having been imprisoned for 27 years for standing up against apartheid, returned in 1994 to be elected South Africa’s first black President. He left yet another legacy for sit tight African Leaders when he opted out after serving only one term.

At FAJ, we agree with what South African President, Mr. Jacob Zuma said of Mandela, that “what made Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.” He was a true patriot who will greatly be missed but whose spirit and legacies live on.

This great historic revolutionary, an icon of freedom, remained steadfast to the end despite the years of being behind bars which took away his freedom and his ability to choose his way of life.  We shall remember him for bringing South Africans together and like former British Prime Minister, John Major said of him, he not only exposed apartheid as immoral but stupid.

Adieu Madiba!

“A man of the Commonwealth who touched the world”

by Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma

Nelson Mandela was an inspirational Commonwealth leader of the twentieth century.  He was a titan of our age. He became the embodiment of nobility and reconciliation in politics and statesmanship. His significance as an exemplar to the world of ethical political engagement will stand for posterity.

Nelson Mandela knew neither fear nor hate. The Commonwealth is proud to have played a historic role in the demise of apartheid.  When walking into the waiting arms of history, he visited Marlborough House first upon arrival in London, and famously said, ‘The Commonwealth makes the world safe for diversity’.

It was our privilege to work alongside Nelson Mandela in striving for safer and fairer lives for Commonwealth citizens in Africa, and a dignified future for our people around the globe.

Despite the adulation he received, Nelson Mandela set the highest example of the democratic spirit in action by leaving office at the end of his presidential term and welcoming his democratically elected successor.

In the life he lived and the choices he made, this extraordinary man left lessons for us all. He shaped history, but his quiet dignity, his wisdom and his wit endeared him to millions worldwide.

While Madiba’s death brings deep sorrow across the world, we also celebrate his long and momentous life. South Africa, Africa, the Commonwealth, and the world are today enriched by it.

His visionary leadership, and his generosity of spirit, will remain an inspiration as South Africa continues its journey along the Commonwealth paths of diversity, development and democracy. Let our meditations on his life and legacy move us to action, and may each of us, in some measure, aspire to follow in his footsteps.

On behalf of the entire Commonwealth family, I convey our deepest condolences to Mr Mandela’s wife Graça and his entire family. We stand together with the people of South Africa at this time of national mourning.


photo credit: Celestine Chua via photopin cc

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