Mandela: world leaders pay homage

6 December 2013

Across the globe, tribute is being paid by the world’s leaders to Nobel Peace Prize laureate and statesman Nelson Mandela, who passed away at his Johannesburg home on Thursday night. He was 95.

Mandela was courageous and profoundly good – US President Barak Obama

US President Barack Obama described Nelson Mandela as a “profoundly good” man who “took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice” in a televised statement on Thursday night, broadcast soon after the announcement of Mandela’s death.

Obama said Mandela symbolised the fight for freedom and dignity throughout the world. His commitment to reconcile with those who jailed him had set an example for all humanity: “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.”

Obama said he was one of the millions of people around the world who drew inspiration from Mandela. “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.”

“We will not likely see the like of Nelson Mandela again,” Obama said. “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.”

A great light has gone out – British Prime Minister David Cameron

David Cameron said “a great light had gone out” following Mandela’s death as flags flew at half-mast at his Downing Street Office. “Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death – a true global hero. Across the country he loved they will be mourning a man who was the embodiment of grace.”

“Meeting him was one of the great honours of my life. My heart goes out to his family – and to all in South Africa and around the world whose lives were changed through his courage. A great light has gone out in the world.”

Mandela was a giant for justice – UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon

“Nelson Mandela was a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration,” United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said at the UN’s Headquarters in New York on Thursday night. “On behalf of the United Nations, I extend my deepest condolences to the people of South Africa and especially to Nelson Mandela’s family, and indeed our global family.”

Ban noted that many people worldwide were greatly influenced by Mandela’s selfless struggle for human dignity, equality and freedom. “He touched our lives in deeply personal ways. At the same time, no one did more in our time to advance the values and aspirations of the United Nations.

“Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world and within each one of us – if we believe, dream and work together for justice and humanity,” said Ban.

The world has lost one of its finest human beings – former US president Bill Clinton

Former US president Bill Clinton, who was in office when Nelson Mandela took power in South Africa, released a statement on behalf of his family, calling Mandela a “champion for human dignity and freedom”.

“Today the world has lost one of its most important leaders and one of its finest human beings,” Clinton said. “History will remember Nelson Mandela as a champion for human dignity and freedom, for peace and reconciliation.”

Mandela taught the world the way to peace – World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. On behalf of the World Bank Group staff, I convey my deepest sympathies to Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela’s family, and the South African people,” World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

Madiba’s gifts to humankind would remain, Kim said. “He taught the world that no matter the sins of the past, no matter the horror of apartheid, the way ahead toward peace was to forgive but not forget, to remember what happened but also to offer a hand in order to start anew.”

A man of deep principles, skilful diplomacy – IMF managing director Christine Lagarde

Mandela “enabled his country to confront its past and inspired its people to address an extraordinary set of challenges”, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde said.

“He was a man who brought deep principles, skilful diplomacy and quiet dignity to the task of national reconciliation and nation building. His modesty in the face of greatness will always be remembered and, moreover, will continue to inspire us all.”

SAnews.gov and SAinfo reporter