Africa commits to carrying forward Mandela’s legacy

By Drum Digital
15 December 2013

Leaders from the African continent have paid tribute to South Africa’s first democratically-elected President Nelson Mandela vowing to further his legacy long after he is gone.

Leaders from the African continent have paid tribute to South Africa’s first democratically-elected President Nelson Mandela and the son of the continent, vowing to further his legacy long after he is gone.

Addressing mourners at Madiba’s official funeral in rural Qunu - where the world icon is buried, the three African leaders on the official programme called on the people of the continent to draw lessons from Mandela’s life in order to build a prosperous future.

In her moving tribute, Malawi’s President and SADC Chairperson Joyce Banda recalled her first meeting with Mandela and how she was inspired by his unique leadership.

She said his courage and love for his people inspired and prepared her to be her country's first woman president.

“I was inspired by Mandela, who was focused, calm and who had a spirit of forgiveness.”

Banda said Africa should take stock of the things Madiba taught, such as serving the people.

“Tata believed that all people are created equal. He saw no boundaries. He championed freedom of all of us Africans.”

Banda, who is also friends with Mandela’s widow Graca Machel, said SADC would remember Madiba for his wisdom and his tireless efforts towards peace.

She said Madiba fought a good fight and ended the race well. “We will strive to emulate Mandela’s stature.”

Banda, who received a standing ovation following her address, called on South Africa to continue to be united - a rainbow nation as per Mandela’s vision.

African Union Chair and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Mandela’s life struggle in the face of unparalleled odds was a mirror of the continent.

“His life has been a record of all the trials the African countries on the continent had to endure under colonialism,” said Hailemariam, who said he was humbled to be present at the funeral of one of Africa’s greatest sons and an icon to humanity.

Hailemariam said Mandela went out of his way to preach a message of endurance, equality, justice and reconciliation.

“As we bid farewell to this great man, we should find consolation in the knowledge that his legacy will live on forever,” said Hailemariam.

He said humanity was better because of the likes of Madiba.

Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete recalled the ties the ANC and Tanzania had during the struggle against apartheid.

“The people of Tanzania have lost a great friend, a great comrade in arms,” he said.

He added that Madiba was very much the hero and the father of the continent too.

Kikwete said Mandela’s charisma remains unmatched in modern times. “Madiba lived his life well. You should live his legacy.”

Inside the specially-erected dome, purple and black chairs were placed in front of a stage, lined with two rows of 95 lit candles, representing the years Madiba had lived.

There is a portrait of a smiling Madiba, looking down on the 4 500 mourners who are attending the service.

Apart from family members and South African dignitaries, Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Britain's Prince Charles, US civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson, Madiba’s friend Oprah Winfrey and businessman Sir Richard Branson were in attendance.

Mandela will be buried next to his relatives at the family gravesite in a private and more intimate ceremony.

He is survived by three daughters, 18 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. - SAnews.gov.za

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