||South Africa: Tributes by World Leaders
||Friday, December 06, 2013
||Dec 06, 2013
At his trial in 1964, Nelson Mandela closed his statement from the dock saying, 'I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
And Nelson Mandela lived for that ideal, and he made it real. He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today, he has gone home. And we have lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us - he belongs to the ages.
Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba transformed South Africa - and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that human beings - and countries - can change for the better.
His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations or our own personal lives. And the fact that he did it all with grace and good humour, and an ability to acknowledge his own imperfections, only makes the man that much more remarkable. As he once said, 'I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.
I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life. My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid. I studied his words and his writings.
The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their hopes and not by their fears. And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.
To Graça Machel and his family, Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathy and gratitude for sharing this extraordinary man with us. His life's work meant long days away from those who loved him the most. And I only hope that the time spent with him these last few weeks brought peace and comfort to his family.
To the people of South Africa, we draw strength from the example of renewal, and reconciliation, and resilience that you made real. A free South Africa at peace with itself - that's an example to the world, and that's Madiba's legacy to the nation he loved.
We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set: to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.
For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived - a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice. May God Bless his memory and keep him in peace.
- President Barack Obama, United States of America
Earlier tonight, my wife Zanele and I learnt with immense distress and profound sadness of the passing away of one of the greatest sons of our people, Esteemed Member of the Order of Mapungubwe and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Isithwalandwe President Nelson Mandela....
His departure represents a very sad moment of grief for his family. But it also constitutes a personal loss for us because over many decades, he served both as our guide and one of our fathers.
President Mandela, Madiba, and his generation of freedom fighters walked their long walk and made enormous sacrifices which eventually led to our freedom in 1994.
His passing signals the end of an historic era represented by the heroic deeds of his generation.
Thus, President Mandela’s departure demands of those of us who remain, South Africans and all Africans on the rest of our Continent, that we commit ourselves selflessly to address the many challenges we face.
President Mandela and his generation discovered the mission of their generation. They were at all times faithful to it, as a result of which they fulfilled it.
As we mourn President Mandela’s passing we must ask ourselves the fundamental question - what shall we do to respond to the tasks of building a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa, a people centred society free of hunger, poverty, disease and inequality, as well as Africa’s renaissance, to whose attainment President Nelson Mandela dedicated his whole life?
We convey our heartfelt condolences to his dear wife, Graça Machel, and the rest of his entire family.
- Former President Thabo Mbeki
Today the world has lost one of its most important leaders and one of its finest human beings. And Hillary, Chelsea and I have lost a true friend. History will remember Nelson Mandela as a champion for human dignity and freedom, for peace and reconciliation. We will remember him as a man of uncommon grace and compassion, for whom abandoning bitterness and embracing adversaries was not just a political strategy but a way of life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Graca and his family and to the people of South Africa. All of us are living in a better world because of the life that Madiba lived. He proved that there is freedom in forgiving, that a big heart is better than a closed mind, and that life's real victories must be shared.
- Former USA President Bill Clinton
Mr Mandela's imprint would be everlasting. My heart weighs heavy," said Mr Jackson, who has been in the UK this week and spoke to students in Cambridge on Monday. "The imprint he left on our world is everlasting.
- American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson
He was a unique political figure at a unique moment in history. Through his leadership, he guided the world into a new era of politics in which black and white, developing and developed, north and south, despite all the huge differences in wealth and opportunity, stood for the first time together on equal terms.
Through his dignity, grace and the quality of his forgiveness, he made racism everywhere not just immoral but stupid; something not only to be disagreed with, but to be despised. In its place he put the inalienable right of all humankind to be free and to be equal.
I worked with him closely, and remember well his visits to Downing Street. He was a wonderful man to be around, with a sharp wit, extraordinary political savvy and a lovely way of charming everyone in a building.
He would delight in making sure that the person on the door or serving the tea would feel at home with him and be greeted by him with the same kindness and respect he would show a leader. So the warmth of his personality was equal to the magnitude of his contribution to the world. He was a great man, a great leader and the world's most powerful symbol of reconciliation, hope and progress.
- Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair
I write to commiserate with you, the Government and people of South Africa and the family of Dr. Nelson Mandela on the death of one of the greatest sons of Africa.
Although it has come at the advanced age of 95, Madiba’s death will create a huge vacuum that will be difficult to fill in our continent. He will be sorely missed by all who cherish love, peace and freedom the world over and will be eternally honoured for his immense contribution to the dismantling of the apartheid policy, one of the world’s most obnoxious systems whose under-pining philosophy was the degradation of man by man.
Dr. Mandela served as a source of inspiration to the oppressed peoples all over the world. In the course of his life-long epic struggle for freedom, fairness, justice, equity and the human rights of his oppressed people, Dr. Mandela made unparalleled personal sacrifices. The indefatigable spirit which he demonstrated throughout his life will continue to inspire present and future generations.
Dr. Mandela will always be remembered and honoured by all mankind as one of its greatest liberators, a wise, courageous and compassionate leader, and an icon of true democracy.
We join you, the Mandela family, the people of South Africa and lovers of freedom, peace, justice and equity all over the world in praying that God Almighty will receive the Great Madiba’s soul and grant him eternal rest.
- President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan