Rawlings describes Mandela as "Man of great spiritual elegance"

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - Ghana's former President Jerry John Rawlings has described former South African President and anti-apartheid giant Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday, as a "man of great spiritual elegance".

In a tribute released on Friday, he said Mandela was an enigma, yet an icon of true reconciliation, adding few adjectives can do justice to the man who came to embody a unique political culture.

"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," Rawlings said.

South African President Jacob Zuma said Mandela, 95, died "peacefully" at his Johannesburg home on Thursday after a prolonged lung infection.

Rawlings said he had deep respect for Mandela "the man, the institution", because he rose from decades of fruitless persecution and sowed a unifying seed for South Africa.

"He stood against the politics of retribution and worked with (former South African President) 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."

Rawlings said what would now be lost to the world was the unifying effect of a man who held to his principles in the face of Western governments who branded him for years as a terrorist, when he was a dignified freedom fighter.

"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," he said.

He conveyed his sincere condolences to the family, government and people of South Africa.
-0- PANA MA 6Dec2013

06 december 2013 04:23:55

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