‘With sad­ness, I cel­e­brate his life’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013 - WENDYL MARTIN

NO­BEL Peace Prize lau­re­ate and for­mer pres­i­dent FW de Klerk paid trib­ute to Nel­son Man­dela yes­ter­day, say­ing he had been ac­cepted by the Afrikaans com­mu­nity.

“I am con­vinced the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity, in­clud­ing Afrikan­ers, ap­pre­ci­ated Nel­son Man­dela. They saw the lit­tle things. They saw Zelda le Grange next to him. She is an Afrikaner. They took note when he trav­elled to Oranje to visit Hen­drik Ver­wo­erd’s widow,” he said.

He had very high praise for Man­dela, say­ing he de­served the im­age of one of the great­est peo­ple on earth dur­ing the past cen­tury. “He was al­ways a warm and mag­nan­i­mous per­son. We be­came good friends af­ter our re­tire­ment. We had ten­sions as po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents. We were al­ways able to rise above those,” he said.

“He was ded­i­cated to a ne­go­ti­ated so­lu­tion. I hon­our Nel­son Man­dela. I pay trib­ute to him. With sad­ness in my heart, I cel­e­brate his life.”

He added: “My hope is that his death will re­mind us of the need for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.”

De Klerk spoke fondly of their re­la­tion­ship, that was sprin­kled with light mo­ments from the start.

He said of their first meet­ing in 1989: “He was taller than I ex­pected. I felt I liked this man. He was a great ad­mirer of the Bo­ers, like Gen­eral de Wet and Gen­eral de la Rey. I was im­pressed with his an­a­lyt­i­cal way of do­ing busi­ness.”

De Klerk re­counted Man­dela’s pres­ence as a guest at his 70th birth­day, say­ing that he joked that al­though De Klerk was younger, they were more or less the same age be­cause he had “27 years of re­lax­ation”.

“Even in his well-de­served re­tire­ment, he con­tin­ued to be a force for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and so­cial jus­tice.

“Tata we shall miss you – but know that your spirit and ex­am­ple will al­ways be there to guide us to the vi­sion of a bet­ter and more just South Africa,” De Klerk said.

PIC­TURE: CANDICE CHAP­LIN

‘I PAY TRIB­UTE’: For­mer pres­i­dent FW de Klerk urged peo­ple to fol­low Nel­son Man­dela’s ex­am­ple.

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