Malawi mourns death of Mandela, a world legend

Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) - Malawi president Joyce Banda as described former South African president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who died on Thursday at his home in Johannesburg, aged 95, as "an inspiration to Africa and the world".

“We are all shattered and shocked. My regret at the passing on of one of Africa’s greatest sons, who fought against all forms of oppression, is so profound,” she said in a statement issued on Friday.

Banda said the passing of Mandela, fondly known by his clan name Madiba, was a “loss to South Africa and the whole world”.

“We have all drawn inspiration from Madiba. We have learnt that with courage and determination we can overcome all evil,” she said.

Banda, Africa’s second female president, said she personally borrowed from Mandela’s life one virtue: "Forgiveness".

She drew parallels with her own suffering as Vice President when “my own government completely abandoned me”.

She said she took a leaf from Mandela, who forgave the apartheid regime that incarcerated him for close to three decades, and forgave her tormentors.

Malawi’s High Commissioner to South Africa between 1997 and 2002, John Chikago, said the first black South African president and anti-apartheid icon was fond of Malawi.

“He was very fond of Malawi. On four occasions he called me to his residence just to talk about Malawi,” he said.

Chikago said Mandela’s life was “a book of leadership” for those aspiring to be leaders.

“One does not need to read it but just observe what he did in his life,” he said.

Former president Bakili Muluzi, who succeeded Mandela as chairman of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), described the Nobel Peace Prize laureate as “an extraordinary man”.

“I can describe him as the face of African struggle for freedom, a freedom fighter, a statesman, a peacemaker,” he said.

Muluzi, who ruled Malawi between 1994 and 2004, said Mandela was in touch with all of the leadership in Africa, particularly those like him who in 1990 were fighting for change in this country.

“We drew a lot of courage from his own courage in order to fight for the people of South Africa and the world at large,” he said.

Mandela visited Malawi in 1990 soon after coming out of prison. He came back in 1997 as president to attend a SADC summit in Blantyre. He returned as a private citizen in 2003 to attend a charity event.

Mandela died at his Johannesburg home surrounded by family. He became the first black president of South Africa in 1994.

The iconic leader had been receiving treatment at home for a lung infection after spending three months in hospital.

President Jacob Zuma made the official announcement in a statement on South Africa’s national television.

Mandela is regarded as one of the greatest statesmen of our time after he reconciled with the white minority rulers who jailed him for 27 years.

Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He stepped down after only one five-year term although constitutionally he was allowed a second term.

Mandela was born in Qunu in the Eastern Cape in 1918. He joined the African National Congress in 1943. In 1956 he was charged with high treason, but charges were dropped after a four-year trial only to be re-arrested and convicted of incitement and leaving country without a passport.

He was sentenced to five years in prison in 1962 before finally being sentenced to serve a life sentence.

He was released in 1990.
-0- PANA RT/MA 6Dec2013

06 december 2013 16:50:01

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