Tributes to a ‘true world hero’

Flags at half mast across the world as lead­ers unite in praise for Madiba

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013 - SAPA-AFP, SAPA-DPA and REUTERS

WASH­ING­TON: Nel­son Man­dela’s death has un­leashed a cho­rus of awed re­spect from across the world. States­men, re­sis­tance lead­ers, No­bel lau­re­ates and pris­on­ers of con­science have died be­fore but never has one man in­spired such global unity in hon­our­ing his death.

The AU mourned the pass­ing of a “pan-African icon”, or­der­ing flags to fly at half mast.

Fore­shad­ow­ing the guest list of what will surely be the most im­por­tant fu­neral of re­cent decades, world lead­ers queued up to is­sue tributes.

”Man­dela has fought a good fight, and bowed out with great rev­er­ence,” said Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, chair of the AU Com­mis­sion. “His pass­ing on is a great loss to his fam­ily, to our con­ti­nent and in­deed to hu­man­ity it­self.

“Madiba... sym­bol­ises the spirit of pan-African­ism and sol­i­dar­ity in the strug­gles of hu­man­ity against apartheid, op­pres­sion and colo­nial­ism and for self- de­ter­mi­na­tion, peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

“To­day he’s gone home, and we’ve lost one of the most in­flu­en­tial, courageous and pro­foundly good hu­man be­ings that any of us will share time with on this Earth,” said US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

“He achieved more than could be ex­pected of any man,” said Obama, who is ex­pected to at­tend Man­dela’s state fu­neral. Obama or­dered US flags at the White House and other pub­lic build­ings flown at half mast un­til Mon­day, in a rare trib­ute to a for­eign leader.

Over and over, lead­ers re­turned to the dig­nity Man­dela dis­played dur­ing his long im­pris­on­ment and when he led South Africa to ma­jor­ity rule.

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, who in 2006 apol­o­gised for what he said were the “mis­takes” of his Con­ser­va­tive Party in its re­sponse to apartheid in Bri­tain’s for­mer colony, was also moved.

“A great light has gone out in the world,” he said.

“Nel­son Man­dela was a tow­er­ing fig­ure in our time; a leg­end in life and now in death – a true global hero.”

In­dia yes­ter­day de­clared five days of na­tional mourn­ing for Man­dela, hailed as a “true Gand­hian” and a “great friend” by the coun­try’s lead­ers.

In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh said: “In a world marked by di­vi­sion, his was an ex­am­ple of work­ing for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and har­mony and we are not likely to see another of his kind for a long time.”

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin hailed Man­dela as “one of the great­est politi­cians in mod­ern times”, say­ing he was a man who never be­trayed his con­vic­tions.

“Man­dela, hav­ing gone through the most dif­fi­cult or­deals, was com­mit­ted to the end of his days to the ideals of hu­man­ism and jus­tice.”

No­bel lau­re­ate and Myan­mar op­po­si­tion leader Aung San Suu Kyi who, like Man­dela, spent many years in de­ten­tion lamented the pass­ing of a “great hu­man be­ing who... made us un­der­stand that we can change the world”.

The Dalai Lama said he would miss a “dear friend.”

“The best trib­ute we can pay to him is to do what­ever we can to con­trib­ute to hon­our­ing the one­ness of hu­man­ity and work­ing for peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion as he did.”

Bill Clin­ton, US pres­i­dent dur­ing Man­dela’s time as pres­i­dent, said: “We will re­mem­ber him as a man of un­com­mon grace and com­pas­sion, for who aban­don­ing bit­ter­ness and em­brac­ing ad­ver­saries was not just a po­lit­i­cal strat­egy but a way of life.”

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in New York was in ses­sion when the am­bas­sadors re­ceived news of Man­dela’s death. They stood for a minute’s si­lence.

“Nel­son Man­dela was a gi­ant for jus­tice and a down-toearth hu­man in­spi­ra­tion,” said sec­re­tary-gen­eral Ban Ki­moon. He “showed what is pos­si­ble for our world and within each one of us if we be­lieve, dream and work to­gether for jus­tice and hu­man­ity”.

UN hu­man rights chief Navi Pil­lay hon­oured Man­dela for hav­ing led op­pressed cit­i­zens into a post-apartheid era that was marked by rec­on­cil­i­a­tion rather than re­venge.

“He told us to throw our spears and guns into the sea,” said the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights, a South African. “He told us to set aside our de­sire for vengeance and work for a South Africa not just free of racism, but free of all types of dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

“The world has lost one of its great­est cit­i­zens,” Tan­za­nian Pres­i­dent Kik­wete said, call­ing Man­dela “a voice of courage, a source of in­spi­ra­tion and a beloved leader to us all”.

In Rwanda, Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame said “he will con­tinue to live in the hearts of many of us”.

French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande said he had “made his­tory – that of South Africa and the whole world”.

“He showed that hu­man will could not only break the chains of servi­tude but free the en­ergy to suc­ceed in build­ing a com­mon des­tiny. Man­dela’s mes­sage will never die. It will con­tinue to in­spire free­dom fight­ers and give con­fi­dence to peo­ple who de­fend just causes and uni­ver­sal rights.”

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping praised Nel­son Man­dela’s “his­toric con­tri­bu­tion” to South Africa and the world.

”With ar­du­ous and ex­tra­or­di­nary ef­forts, he led the peo­ple of South Africa to suc­cess in the strug­gle against apartheid, mak­ing a his­toric con­tri­bu­tion to the birth and de­vel­op­ment of a new South Africa.”

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said: “Nel­son Man­dela was of the most hon­ourable fig­ures of our time. He was the fa­ther of his peo­ple, a man of vi­sion, a free­dom fighter who re­jected vi­o­lence.

“He set a per­sonal ex­am­ple for his peo­ple in the long years he spent in prison. He was never ar­ro­gant. He worked to mend the tears in South African so­ci­ety and with his char­ac­ter man­aged to pre­vent out­bursts of racial ha­tred.

“He will be re­mem­bered... as an out­stand­ing moral leader.”

“To­day a great free­dom fighter, Nel­son Man­dela, has died, one of the world’s most im­por­tant sym­bols of free­dom,” said Moussa Abu Mar­zouk, a se­nior of­fi­cial of the Pales­tinian Is­lamist Ha­mas group.

In Venezuela, Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro de­clared three days of na­tional mourn­ing.

“Nine months since the pass­ing of our co­man­dante (Hugo Chavez), another gi­ant of the peo­ple of the world passed away to­day. Madiba you will live for­ever!” Maduro said.

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe: “He fought for the abo­li­tion of apartheid with strong will. On na­tion build­ing, he made a ma­jor achieve­ment, with fo­cus on the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of the peo­ple.”

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel said: “His name will al­ways be as­so­ci­ated with the fight against the op­pres­sion of his peo­ple and with over­com­ing the apartheid regime.

“Not even years in prison could break Nel­son Man­dela or make him bit­ter... (his) shin­ing ex­am­ple and his po­lit­i­cal legacy of non-vi­o­lence and the con­dem­na­tion of all forms of racism will con­tinue to in­spire peo­ple around the world for many years to come.”

Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto said: “Hu­man­ity has lost a tire­less cham­pion of peace, lib­erty and equal­ity.”

“Nel­son Man­dela was a man who changed the world. He was as firm in his be­lief in the equal value of ev­ery hu­man be­ing as he was strong in his will and abil­ity to bring about rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

“He chose rec­on­cil­i­a­tion where oth­ers would have cho­sen vengeance... gave peo­ple around the world a role model and an ideal,” said Swedish Prime Min­is­ter Fredrik Re­in­feldt.

Ir­ish Prime Min­is­ter Enda Kenny said: “The name Man­dela stirred our con­science and our hearts. It be­came syn­ony­mous with the pur­suit of dig­nity and free­dom across the globe... The boy from the Transkei has fin­ished his long walk. His jour­ney trans­formed not just South Africa but hu­man­ity it­self.”

New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter John Key said: “Nel­son Man­dela was an in­spi­ra­tional leader, and a re­mark­able man... For years he sym­bol­ised South Africa’s hope for a fu­ture free from apartheid. Mr Man­dela was a force for change, not only in South Africa, but around the world.”

Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Dilma Rouss­eff: “Man­dela con­ducted with pas­sion and in­tel­li­gence one of the most im­por­tant pro­cesses of hu­man eman­ci­pa­tion in con­tem­po­rary his­tory – the end of apartheid in South Africa. His fight mor­phed it­self into a par­a­digm, not only for the African con­ti­nent, but also for those who fight for free­dom, jus­tice and equal­ity.”

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

SOL­I­DAR­ITY: Flags fly at half mast at the Houses of Par­lia­ment in West­min­ster, Lon­don, yes­ter­day as a mark of re­spect af­ter the death of Nel­son Man­dela.

PIC­TURE: AP

‘HE’S GONE HOME’: US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama speaks about the death of Nel­son Man­dela in the brief­ing room of the White House in Wash­ing­ton. Obama said the world had lost an in­flu­en­tial, courageous and ‘pro­foundly good’ man.

PIC­TURE: AP

POLE PO­SI­TION: EU flags fly at half mast to hon­our the mem­ory of Nel­son Man­dela at the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion head­quar­ters in Brus­sels yes­ter­day.

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