Tribute to Nelson Mandela by Sir Shridath Ramphal: Commonwealth Secretary-General (1975-1990)

Nelson Mandela, a revered world statesman who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead South Africa out of its dark days of apartheid, has died, President Jacob Zuma announced. He was 95, according to CNN.

The former president battled health issues in recent years, including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalizations.

In a nation healing from the scars of apartheid, Mandela became the moral compass.

His defiance of white-minority rule and his incarceration for fighting against segregation focused the world’s attention on South Africa’s apartheid system, making him a symbol of the struggle for racial equality.

In his lifetime, he was a man of complexities. He went from being considered a terrorist, to an imprisoned freedom fighter, to a unifying figure, to an elder statesman respected worldwide.

Tomorrow's children will not be able to say, as we can with pride and a deep sense of privilege, that we lived in the time of Nelson Mandela, a unique and memorable human being. 'Madiba' has gone from us; but he is part of eternity and will always belong to the entire world.

Tomorrow’s children will not be able to say, as we can with pride and a deep sense of privilege, that we lived in the time of Nelson Mandela, a unique and memorable human being. ‘Madiba‘ has gone from us; but he is part of eternity and will always belong to the entire world.

His indomitable spirit will forever inspire people in pursuit of freedom and justice; his humanity will be a beacon for all who are wronged. He made our troubled age less shameful by his own nobility.

He enriched my own life by the small part I played, as Commonwealth Secretary-General, in restoring him to freedom - even though he showed that truly "Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage".

He enriched my own life by the small part I played, as Commonwealth Secretary-General, in restoring him to freedom – even though he showed that truly “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage“.

That my official Commonwealth residence was the one he came to when first he came to London, after his release from prison, to meet those who fought with him against apartheid and the injustices of the apartheid regime, will forever be a badge of honour for the Commonwealth.

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