The Long Walk To Freedom Ends With Global Tributes To The Life Of Nelson Mandela

Australian political figures are amongst world leaders who have paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, the revolutionary anti-apartheid campaigner, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and first black President of South Africa, who has died at the age of 95.

Mandela

The most celebrated and respected politician of our times, Mandela’s death marks the passing of a global leader noted for his courage, humanity, humility and grace.

Imprisoned by the white South African apartheid regime in 1962, Mandela spent most of the next 27 years in the Robben Island prison. He was released in February 1990 in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the instigation of then President F.W. de Klerk.

At free and democratic elections in 1994, Mandela was elected the first black President of South Africa. His administration dismantled the apartheid system but he saw his principal task as promoting national reconciliation.

Mandela retired in 1999 but soon “retired from retirement” and devoted his final years to speaking out on a wide range of issues.

In a moving tribute, Barack Obama, the first black President of the United States, said of Mandela: “For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived — a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”

“He no longer belongs to us – he belongs to the ages,” Obama said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott described Mandela as a “truly great man”. He said Mandela was one of the great figures of the last century, the father of modern South Africa who built a “multicultural, pluralist democracy”.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, who visited Mandela in prison and worked to dismantle apartheid, described Mandela as the greatest person he had ever met.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said: “In fractious and troubled times, Mandela led his nation out of the dark age of apartheid, not with a violent struggle, but with peace, compassion and a force of moral leadership.”

The Greens leader, Senator Christine Milne, said Mandela inspired people around the world with great courage, commitment and personal sacrifice: “South Africa and the world will today mourn the loss but celebrate the life of the great leader, freedom fighter and President, Nelson Mandela.”

  • Watch South African President Jacob Zuma announce Mandela’s death (9m)
  • Watch Prime Minister Tony Abbott comment on Mandela (1m)
  • Watch President Barack Obama (5m)
  • Watch a Channel 10 report on Mandela (3m)
  • Nelson Mandela in Sydney (1m)
  • Charlayne Hunter-Gault of the PBS NewsHour looks at Mandela’s life (19m)

Text of remarks by President Barack Obama on the death of Nelson Mandela.

Statement by the President on the Death of Nelson Mandela

At his trial in 1964, Nelson Mandela closed his statement from the dock saying, “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

And Nelson Mandela lived for that ideal, and he made it real. He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today, he has gone home. And we have lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us — he belongs to the ages.

Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba transformed South Africa — and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that human beings — and countries — can change for the better. His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations or our own personal lives. And the fact that he did it all with grace and good humor, and an ability to acknowledge his own imperfections, only makes the man that much more remarkable. As he once said, “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life. My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid. I studied his words and his writings. The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears. And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.

To Graça Machel and his family, Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathy and gratitude for sharing this extraordinary man with us. His life’s work meant long days away from those who loved him the most. And I only hope that the time spent with him these last few weeks brought peace and comfort to his family.

To the people of South Africa, we draw strength from the example of renewal, and reconciliation, and resilience that you made real. A free South Africa at peace with itself — that’s an example to the world, and that’s Madiba’s legacy to the nation he loved.

We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set: to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.

For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived — a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice. May God Bless his memory and keep him in peace.

Media release from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela will forever be remembered as more than a political leader, he was a moral leader.

He spent much of his life standing against the injustice of apartheid.

When that fight was won, he inspired us again by his capacity to forgive and reconcile his country.

While the world may never see another Nelson Mandela, he has inspired countless men and women throughout the world to live more courageous and honest lives.

On behalf of the Australian Government and the Australian community, I extend my condolences to Mr Mandela’s family and to the people of South Africa.

Remarks by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

On behalf of the Federal Opposition, I pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. Unarguably, one of the greatest global figures of our time. Today we’ve lost a light of the world. In fractious and troubled times, Mandela led his nation out of the dark age of apartheid, not with a violent struggle, but with peace, compassion and a force of moral leadership. Mandela knew that his country could never be healed with violence or vengeance. He suffered so that his people could be free.

Mandela was a true leader, a statesman and a defining symbol of reconciliation. He achieved perhaps more than other leader of his age, in pursuit of peace, acceptance and reconciliation. The slow struggle for reconciliation doesn’t stop today, not for South Africa and indeed not for any of us around the world. Today is a day to renew, I think, our resolve for reconciliation.

Mandela was an example to the world and we do his memory honour by living by the standards and ideals that he set for us. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his nation and his people. And indeed, our thoughts are with all of those who saw in him a hope for a better world. Our world is better for Mandela, his life. May he rest in peace.

Washington Post

Media release from the Australian Greens.

Greens pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and celebrate his life

Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne has expressed profound sadness at the passing of the great Nelson Mandela, but says the world will celebrate his life as a gift to South Africa, the world and all of humankind.

“South Africa and the world will today mourn the loss but celebrate the life of the great leader, freedom fighter and President, Nelson Mandela,” Senator Milne said.

“Nelson Mandela inspired people around the world with great courage, commitment and personal sacrifice.

“As a global symbol for peace, for freedom and for the struggle for liberation from suppression and violence, Nelson Mandela will live forever in the hearts and minds of Australians, just as he will for people across the globe.

“The world will be united in mourning for Nelson Mandela and in celebration of this great life. I express my own personal gratitude for Mr Mandela’s personal sacrifices and gifts to humankind.

“I had the immense privilege of being in the audience when Nelson Mandela addressed the World Parks Congress in 2004. I was humbled to be in the presence of one of the greatest and wisest leaders of the century.

“Mr Mandela’s message at the time was: ‘A sustainable future for humankind depends on a caring partnership with nature as much as anything else.’

“He was also passionate about including young people in decision making, saying: ‘Without the involvement of the youth, the future cannot be secured.’

“His passion for education was a great source of personal inspiration for me as a teacher and a parliamentarian – ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’

“I can remember distinctly the day 11th February 1990. I watched on television, just as millions did around the world, as Mr Mandela finally walked from prison having served 27 years of his life behind bars for standing against apartheid.

“On behalf of the Australian Greens I send best wishes and thoughts for Mr Mandela’s family, the people of South Africa, and to all those who will mourn this great loss to humanity.”

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