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Tributes from across the world poured in as world came to terms with a loss of a great leader, Nelson Mandela on Thursday December 5, 2013. The former South African leader passed away at the age of 95. According to South African President Jacob Zuma, “our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.”
Mandela’s life is a story of hope, a man who came to abolish racism, to promote equality and the right of people to function in a society free of ethnic and racial divides. In spite of living in times where racism was a pervasive and intractable reality of South Africa, he stood against the unjust system as a hope for his people and for the rest of humanity. He has become the most mourned leaders of our time and is credited as one of the greatest presidents and champion of anti-apartheid movements.
The world will always remember the man who spent 27 years of his life in incarceration, walked a long walk to freedom and in doing so, freed hundreds and thousands of people from the apartheid system of South Africa. His greatest achievement to date was replacing the former South African apartheid regime with a multi-racial democracy. He was South Africa’s first black president and won the Noble Peace Prize for his efforts to peace and justice in 1993. Mandela’s power to win the minds and hearts of millions came from his vision to unite a country that was divided by color and ethnicity. Hundreds of thousands of people were drawn to him, not because of his expertise in politics, but because he could talk about the needs of the people he was representing. The former president of South Africa was resonant and a man of great talents, who campaigned against the stigmatized epidemic of HIV/AIDS and secured the rights of his nation to host its first soccer world cup in 2010.
South Africans paid tribute by gathering at his home in Johannesburg’s Houghton neighborhood. Thousands of mourners also gathered at Vilakazi Street in Soweto where he previously lived.
The president of South African Rugby Union, Oregan Hoskins, said: “All of our lives are poorer today at the extinguishing of the great beacon of light and hope that led the way for our country through the transition to democracy. ‘Madiba’ was a great man of vision, determination and integrity who performed a miracle that amazed the world as much as it amazed his fellow countrymen.”
People across the world have expressed a profound sense of loss over the death of the South African hero. Toonari Post reports some of the reactions in UK and across the world.
The mood across London was solemn and sorrowful. As a mark of respect to Mandela, the flag at the palace of Westminster was at half-mast. Many Londoners left flowers as tribute near a statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square.
In a moving tribute, Prince Charles called Nelson Mandela “the embodiment of courage and reconciliation.” Prince Williams described the death of Mr. Mandela as, “extremely sad and tragic.”
Helen Smith, a 32-year-old project manager, said:
“I am so sad by his death, I went to Parliament square today with my 5-year-old son to lay flowers , and since yesterday I have told my son twice the story of this great man.”
Reina Nazir President of British Kashmiri Women Council said:
“You feel the world is now engulfed in dark shadows, he was a man of great talents and virtues, I learnt from his struggles to keep fighting for what you believe in, every time I wanted to give up on my campaign work, I would think of Mandela and would keep moving forward.”
“He is one of those people who changed the world by opposing apartheid movement in South Africa and spending months in jail”, said a 19-year-old Kings College University student, “He was a legend.”
Zephy Abioden of Nigerian heritage told Toonari Post:
“My grandfather is same age as Mr Mandela, he is very disturbed by the news and we all have been praying for his family and friends.”
Asim Khan, President of Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaaf UK (PTIUK) paid a tribute to Nelson Mandela and told us:
“Nelson Madiba Mandela was shut out from the world for good 27 years as prisoner 46664. But his endeavour and stance what he stood for and life spent was something the world will never forget and all the struggles to achieve that dream and cohesion. A man for all seasons as he should be and for all ages.”
In an exclusive to Toonari Post, Ni’mah Ismail Nawwab, best-selling poet, writer and Social Empowerment Leader from Mecca, Saudi Arabia said:
“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere…” Nelson Mandela. He is now finally free, soaring and watching his legacy unfold. His example, teachings and spirit will live on and outlast many as the value of his contributions will continue to bear fruit even more so with time. There is no tribute that will ever fit all that he represented in terms of humility, dedication, faith, courage and iconic characteristics and values for humanity. His story will continue to evolve as his book, in a sense the book of man, revolves. The interlinked history of humanity will pay him tribute with the passage of eras for all his innumerable sacrifices and deeds.” May he rest in peace, the world mourns him with united souls.
Indeed, Mandela gave the world hope, that societies and neighborhoods without ethnic, racial or color barriers can exist. His courageous struggle for multi-racial democracy in a country, where racial inequality was a troubling fact of life, shows the iron-will of a man, who was a visionary leader. He was a passionate and tolerant leader who had full faith in South Africa. He fought a system where enduring racial divide was sustained by whites’ preferential treatment of members of their own class network. Mandela stood against the practice of racial inequality that was being fully played out in South Africa’s social, economic and political context and dreamt of a country without racial, cultural, and status quo divisions.
The 45-year-old Ram Saigol from Ealing London told our reporter,
“I have read ‘long walk to freedom’ 10 times, for me Mandela was a hope, a hope that things can change and one day people will follow his vision and we will see a world that is more just and more peaceful, with his passing, I see the hope of a better world passing.”
He will forever be remembered for shaping his nation’s major social, cultural, political, and economic institutions and for developing the policies and programs that modified some of the traditional practices to respond to demands for equity.
New details regarding Nelson Mandela’s funeral have been announced by South African President Jacob Zuma, confirming that “Mr Mandela’s body will lie in state for three days before a funeral is held on Sunday December 15 in Qunu, the village in Eastern Cape where he was born.” His funeral will see notorious world leaders, dignitaries and monarchs in attendance, among them the Queen of Britain, the Pope, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Dalai Lama and possibly the President of Unite States, Barack Obama.
Image credit: Nelson Mandela via Facebook