‘With sadness, I celebrate his life’
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.
‘I PAY TRIBUTE’: Former president FW de Klerk urged people to follow Nelson Mandela’s example.