Mahama: Mandela used peace as vehicle of liberation

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama has paid tribute to the late South African President Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday aged 95, saying he used peace as a vehicle of liberation.

In an article released by the Presidency in Accra, Mahama, who is in Paris to attend a summit of peace and security in Africa briefly traced the history of Mandela and his first encounter with the anti-apartheid icon, whom he first saw physically in Cape Town while waiting for a lift in a hotel.

Mahama, who was five years old when Mandela was jailed, said by the time he came face to face with the former South African leader, he had already been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and elected president of a land in which he and all other black people had previously been refused suffrage.

"He had become an icon, not only of hope, but also of the possibility for healing."

Mahama said as he was waiting to take the lift up to his hotel room, the doors opened, there was Mandela.

"I took a step back, and froze. As he exited, Mandela glanced in my direction and nodded. I could not return the gesture. I couldn’t move, not even to blink. I just stood there in awe, thinking: here was the man for whom we had marched, sung and wept; the man from the black-and-white photograph. Here was the man who had created a new moral compass for South Africa and, as a matter of course, the entire continent."

Mahama said it was no coincidence that in the years since Mandela’s release from prison, so much of Africa has 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. 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."

He said as he watched Mandela walk past him, he understood that his story, the long walk to freedom, 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"The indignation that once permeated our continent has been replaced by inspiration.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 — wars, coups, disease, poverty and oppression — has given way to a steadily increasing sense of possibility.

"It wasn’t just Nelson Mandela who was transformed during those years of his imprisonment. We all were. And Africa is all the better because of that," Mahama wrote.

Mandela, 95, died "peacefully" on Thursday, South Africa's president Jacob Zuma announced on television.
-0- PANA MA 6Dec2013

06 december 2013 04:47:29

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