Indonesians remember Mandela batik shirts

Jakarta - Indonesians on Friday paid tribute to the late anti-Apartheid leader Nelson Mandela ... fondly remembering him for his penchant for colourful Indonesian-style batik shirts.

"Nelson Mandela was bolder than I am, in that he wore batik in international events," former Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla was quoted by the state-run Antara news agency.

"I'm still hesitant about wearing batik at such events," he added. Batik is considered Indonesia's national attire, but officials tend to wear Western-style suits at official events.

"The world has lost a man of sincere smile, genuine love and a hero of anti-racism. RIP Nelson Mandela. Thanks for wearing batik, such an honour," wrote Made Yoga Wiranata, one of many normal Indonesians who commented on social networking site Twitter.

Mandela, who died on Thursday, was first introduced to the costume in 1990 after he was given a batik shirt as a souvenir during a visit to Indonesia shortly after his installation as South Africa's first black president, according to local media.

Late Indonesian president Suharto was reportedly surprised when he saw Mandela wearing a batik during an official visit to Indonesia in 1997.

South African designer Desre Buirski crafted most of Mandela's silk batik clothing, known in South Africa as the Madiba shirt. Local media said some of Mandela's shirts were also designed by famous Indonesian designer Iwan Tirta, who died in 2010.

Friends, colleagues, comrades and family of Nelson Mandela are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at Remembered.co.za.

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