The Prime Minister has responded to the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela after signing the book of condolence for Nelson Mandela at South Africa House.
Your cause of fighting for freedom and against discrimination, your struggle for justice, your triumph against adversity – these things will inspire generations to come.
And through all of this, your generosity, compassion and profound sense of forgiveness, have given us all lessons to learn and live by.
‘Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God.’
Earlier this morning, the Prime Minister said:
I feel extraordinary sadness at the passing of such a heroic figure. He lived an extraordinary life of belief in a simple principle of fighting discrimination, the extraordinary struggle of all those years in prison then the immense trial against adversity and all he achieved for his country and to inspire people around the world. And then throughout all of this, there was an extraordinary generosity and sense of forgiveness that he had for those who had done him so much harm. That was the real privilege of meeting him.
My memories are of a man who had a wonderful sense of humour and a wonderful generosity. The abiding memory I have is seeing him in Johannesburg and him talking about the people who had imprisoned him and the suffering he’d undergone and yet his complete forgiveness, his total lack of malice, towards those who had done this to him and his sense that all that mattered was building a safe and strong and a fair South Africa.
I also was very struck by the fact that, after leaving power, he still cared so deeply about the issues like Aids and HIV which were affecting his country and he never gave up these things.
He was an amazing man, an extraordinary heroic figure but also a man with a sense of forgiveness which I think is the lesson that we’ll need to learn and try to live by.
Today is a day to focus on his legacy, on his life, on his work and above all the inspiration he will give to millions of people across our world. I think his achievements through his inspiration will be every bit as powerful as what he achieved in his life.
On first learning of the news on 5 December 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron said:
A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death – a true global hero. Across the country he loved they will be mourning a man who was the embodiment of grace. Meeting him was one of the great honours of my life.
My heart goes out to his family – and to all in South Africa and around the world whose lives were changed through his courage.
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