Ban Ki-moon: Mandela’s words still guide me

2013-12-09 17:36

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, saying the world was joined together “in sorrow for a mighty loss and in celebration of a mighty life”.

Ban was speaking to journalists at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Houghton, shortly after arriving in South Africa for Mandela’s memorial service tomorrow.

He said he thought it only fitting that he visit the centre in order to learn more about what Mandela had done for humanity.

“The world mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela, one of the towering figures of our time and indeed of any time. He was a giant for justice, equality and human rights. He touched our lives so deeply.”

Ban said that he was so deeply struck by what Mandela said to him when they met in 2009, that the words still guided him.

“I wanted to say a few words of compliments (to Mandela) for what he had been doing for humanity, particularly in ending apartheid.

“He (Mandela) said: ‘Well it's not only me – there were hundreds and hundreds of known and unknown ... people who worked for that cause, the same cause which I was trying to achieve.’

“I was so deeply moved and touched and struck. What he said is still guiding me. He was a man of humility, modesty and human decency.”

Ban said he knew that the centre’s vision was “a society which remembers its past, listens to all its voices and pursues social justice.

“This is what Nelson Mandela wanted to achieve.”

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