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The Elders honour the memory of their Founder, Nelson Mandela
an article by The Elders

Video: tribute to Nelson Mandela

The Elders are deeply saddened by the death of their founder, Nelson Mandela. They join millions of people around the world who were inspired by his courage and touched by his compassion. All will mourn his passing.

Nelson Mandela and the Elders in Johannesburg in 2010. (L-R: Graça Machel, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson, Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Martti Ahtisaari, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi) Credit: The Elders/Jeff Moore

click on photo to enlarge

Mandela – or Madiba as he is known in South Africa – called the Elders together in 2007, urging them to be bold, independent and to speak the truth. He told them to be a robust force for good, and to work in the interests of peace for all humanity.

The Elders have taken Madiba’s words as their mission and endeavour to honour his memory in their work. On this sad day they give their love and condolences to his wife Graça Machel, who is also a member of The Elders, and all the Mandela family.

Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary- General, Chair of The Elders, said:

“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.

“I shall never forget his expansive smile and gentle demeanour, nor his steely determination and wonderful sense of humour. I have lost a dear friend. While I mourn the loss of one of Africa’s most distinguished leaders, Madiba’s legacy beckons us to follow his example to strive for human rights, reconciliation and justice for all.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Chair of The Elders, said:

“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. He inspired us to walk the path of forgiveness and reconciliation and so South Africa did not go up in flames. Thank you God, for this wonderful gift who became a moral colossus, a global icon of forgiveness and reconciliation. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”

Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, said:

“The most impressive man of my generation has passed away. No one has influenced my life more than President Nelson Mandela. Anyone supporting the just struggle for democratic change in Southern Africa cannot have been untouched by President Mandela’s life.

“When I first met President Mandela, I was deeply impressed. He was a man who had been in prison for 27 years, but after his release did not want to waste his life by feeling bitter about his captors, however justified that would have been.

“Instead he used his enormous influence to build a new South Africa for all her citizens. He taught us what responsible leadership means. His presence was always uplifting. We owe it to him that we will try to follow his example. Today I join the millions who miss him and extend my deepest condolences to his wife and family.”

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Ela Bhatt, founder of India’s Self-Employed
Women’s Association (SEWA), said:

“The world has lost a great leader. Madiba showed the people of the world that great nations are built with moral courage and collective strength, with justice and equal opportunity, with truth and reconciliation, with love and forgiveness, with vision and wisdom. He was indeed the Gandhi of South Africa. His spirit lives on in the people of South Africa and in the hearts of all who loved him.

“His face is difficult to forget, so kind and so caring. It was his message of Ubuntu that drew me to him and to the Elders. We can do no better than honour his memory by bringing the spirit of Ubuntu to every corner of the world.

“My deepest condolences to Graça and Madiba’s family for their great loss.”

Lakhdar Brahimi, former Foreign Minister of Algeria, said:

“Men and women everywhere feel 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.”

Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, Deputy Chair of The Elders, said:

“Six years after his release from prison, I had the great honour as Norway's Prime Minister, to be the first foreign guest to visit Robben Island with Nelson Mandela and see the tiny cell in which he spent 18 of his 27 years in jail. It was an incredibly moving and unforgettable experience. . ...more.

This report was posted on December 18, 2013.