The Elders Forum mourns founder Nelson Mandela

Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - The Elders Forum, a group of world veteran politicians and prominent socio-religious veterans founded by Nelson Mandela on his 89th birthday, 18 July 2007, said Friday that it was "deeply saddened" by the death of their mentor.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of our founder, Nelson Mandela as we join millions of people around the world who were inspired by his courage and touched by his compassion in bemoaning his passing,” said a press release issued by the group and received by PANA here.

In the release, the Group recalled that it was Mandela or Madiba, as he is known in South Africa, that encouraged group members to be bold, independent and speak the truth in all matters.

"He told us to be a robust force for good, and to work in the interests of peace for all humanity," the release disclosed.

“The world has lost a visionary leader, a courageous voice for justice, and a clear moral compass. By showing us that the path to freedom and human dignity lies in love, wisdom and compassion for one another, Nelson Mandela stands as an inspiration to us all,” the statement quoted Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General and Chair of The Elders, as saying.

Some of the Elders took their turn in eulogizing Mandela.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Chair of The Elders, stressed that “God was so good to us in South Africa by giving us Nelson Mandela to be our President at a crucial moment in our history.”

Tutu said Mandela had inspired South Africans to walk the path of forgiveness and reconciliation and so South Africa did not go up in flames.

Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, stressed that Mandela, who was the  most impressive man of his generation, had passed on.

“No one has influenced my life more than President Nelson Mandela,"Ahtisaari was quoted as saying.

Ela Bhatt, founder of India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), stressed that Mandela “was indeed the Mahatma Gandhi of South Africa".

Former Algerian Foreign Minister and member of the Elders, Lakhdar Brahimi, stressed that men and women everywhere feel that they have lost someone very close to them, a man they loved deeply and respected and admired profoundly.

“It was such a privilege to have known him, to have listened to him a number of times, to have participated, however modestly, in his gigantic achievement: the end of apartheid and the restoration of lasting peace and reconciliation in South Africa," he said.

Deputy Chair of The Elders and former Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland, said Mandela “embodied the greatness of human dignity and restraint under terrible pressure. No one else in our lifetime has made such a lasting mark on our minds and attitudes, all across the world, as Nelson Mandela.”

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil, said “The whole world laments the loss of Nelson Mandela. For us Brazilians and for me personally, his action went beyond the struggle for a free South Africa.”

Jimmy Carter, former US President, said he was “deeply saddened by the death of Nelson Mandela. The people of South Africa and human rights advocates around the world have lost a great leader.”

Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, was quoted as stressing that they would strive to uphold the values of justice, of listening, and of mutual respect for others that he embodied.”
Mandela founded The Elders Forum in Johannesburg on his 89th birthday, 18 July 2007, after the idea was brought to him by the entrepreneur Richard Branson and the musician Peter Gabriel.

With the help of Graça Machel and Desmond Tutu he brought together ten ‘Elders’ – independent, progressive leaders committed to peace, justice and human rights – to work together on global problems, including peace-building and reconciliation in war-affected regions, sustainable development and equality for girls and women.

The Elders are funded by a group of donors who are named on the Advisory Council. Over the first three years, US$18 million was raised to fund The Elders' work.

The members are as follows:-
   1. Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
   2. Kofi Annan (Chair), former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
   3. Ela Bhatt, founder of the Self-Employed Women's Association of India.
   4. Lakhdar Brahimi, former Foreign Minister of Algeria and United Nations envoy.
   5. Gro Harlem Brundtland (Deputy Chair), former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organization.
   6. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil.
   7. Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States, Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
   8. Hina Jilani, international human rights defender from Pakistan.
   9. Graça Machel, former Education Minister of Mozambique, President of the Foundation for Community Development and wife of Nelson Mandela.
  10. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  11. Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico.

In the absence of Mandela, the surviving Honorary Elder is Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, former Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and former Chair of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
-0- PANA MO/VAO 6Dec2013

06 december 2013 15:41:34

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