'Mandela, a watchman'
16:04 - (SA)
Johannesburg - Tributes poured in on Friday as former South
African president Nelson Mandela celebrated his 85th birthday.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in an appreciation
published in the South African press on Friday, said he gave
Mandela as an example when people asked him what difference
one person could make "in the face of injustice, conflict,
human rights violations, mass poverty and disease".
"To this day," Annan wrote, "Madiba (Mandela's Xhosa clan
name) remains probably the single most admired, most respected
international figure in the entire world.
"He continues to to inspire millions of people and several
generations throughout the globe, by continuing to fight for
reconciliation before recrimination, healing before
bitterness, peace before conflict; by fighting for health, for
education, for the right of every child to have a better start
in life ... "
Former US president Bill Clinton wrote: "President
Mandela has taught us so much about so many things. Perhaps
the greatest lesson, especially for young people, is that,
while bad things do happen to good people, we still have the
freedom and responsibility to decide how to respond to
injustice, cruelty and violence and how they will affect our
spirits, hearts and minds."
Mandela's successor, President Thabo Mbeki, wrote:
"Nelson Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela is God's gift to our
country, South Africa, our continent, Africa, and the world at
large ... He will remain an icon for all time whenever and
wherever people have discourse about human yearnings for
freedom and justice."
American comedian Bill Cosby described Mandela as a
"world cultural icon ... a watchman, towering over his nation,
a man whose gift of wisdom and human understanding is uncommon
in our time."
Said Anglican archbishop emeritus of Cape Town Desmond
Tutu, a close friend, of Mandela's 27 years in prison: "It
gave him a new depth, helped him to be more understanding of
the foibles of others, to be more generous, more tolerant,
more magnanimous and it gave him an unassailable credibility
and integrity and so he could be as he was when he emerged
from prison, willing to extend a hand of friendship to his
former adversaries and be generous when they were vanquished."
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