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Dec 6, 2013

'Mandela's story was also Africa's story'


President John Dramani Mahama said on Friday that it was the entire people of Africa and not  just Nelson Mandela alone who was transformed during the 27 years of his imprisonment on Robben Island.

President Mahama, who is currently attending a peace summit in France, made the observation in an article he dedicated to the memory of the late Madiba, when he received news about the passing of one of the world’s greatest statesmen and icon of freedom.  It was published by the New York Times on Friday.

“Countries, like people, must acknowledge the trauma they have experienced, and they must find a way to reconcile, to make what was broken whole again”, President Mahama stated in the article entitled ‘He taught a continent to forgive’.

He said it was no coincidence that in the years since Mandela’s release from prison so much of Africa had turned toward democracy and the rule of law. “His utilization of peace as a vehicle of liberation showed Africa that if we were to move beyond the divisiveness caused by colonization, and the pain of our self-inflicted wounds, compassion and forgiveness must play a role in governance”, President Mahama added.

The Head of State further declared that the late Nelson Mandela’s story was also Africa’s story. “The indignation that once permeated our continent has been replaced by inspiration. The undercurrent of pessimism resulting from the onslaught of maladies ... has given way to a steadily increasing sense of possibility.”

In his remarks, Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has described the passing away Nelson Mandela as "expected but shocking".

"Selfish, self-centered, tribal divisive tendencies that he obviously eschewed should be taken away from our lives", the ex-president said, adding that his life should be a lesson to leaders in Ghana and in Africa that "when you get the chance to be a leader you should be there for the people."

"I don't know if statues will honour him enough", he said, and suggested that literary works and research into his life by political scientists will help honour the late Mandela much better.

Former President Jerry John Rawlings on his part, eulogised the anti-apartheid icon, saying that the late Mandela stood as a symbol of resilience, fortitude, patience and tolerance. He also exhibited exceptional leadership qualities, which will shape and inspire generations to come.

Former President Rawlings said Mandela stood against the politics of retribution and worked with Frederick de Klerk to further the cause of a unified post-apartheid South Africa.

“Madiba was a man of great spiritual elegance, a man of towering moral height. His moral compass pointed out to millions around the world a sense of purpose and a moral mandate strong enough to prompt defiance of leaders bent on propping up the apartheid regime.”

Former President Rawlings indicated that what will now be lost to the world was the unifying effect of a man who held to his principles ... “We have lost not only a statesman, but also a grand pillar of sincerity in global affairs, originality and one who demonstrated a pure sense of humanity.”

Mr Mandela spent 27 years in jail before becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994.  He died on Thursday aged 95.

He had been receiving intense home-based medical care for a lung infection after three months in hospital.

A service of national mourning is expected to be held at a 95,000-seater stadium on the outskirts of Johannesburg on Monday.

His body will then lie in state for three days in the capital, Pretoria, before being taken for a state funeral in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape where he grew up.

Source: GNA