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"Nelson Mandela, a man of the Commonwealth who touched the world"

5 December 2013
Statement by: Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, describing him as “a man of the Commonwealth who touched the world".

Mr Sharma said: “Nelson Mandela was an inspirational Commonwealth leader of the twentieth century.  He was a titan of our age. He became the embodiment of nobility and reconciliation in politics and statesmanship. His significance as an exemplar to the world of ethical political engagement will stand for posterity.

“Nelson Mandela knew neither fear nor hate. The Commonwealth is proud to have played a historic role in the demise of apartheid.  When walking into the waiting arms of history, he visited Marlborough House first upon arrival in London, and famously said, ‘The Commonwealth makes the world safe for diversity’.

“It was our privilege to work alongside Nelson Mandela in striving for safer and fairer lives for Commonwealth citizens in Africa, and a dignified future for our people around the globe.

“Despite the adulation he received, Nelson Mandela set the highest example of the democratic spirit in action by leaving office at the end of his presidential term and welcoming his democratically elected successor.

“In the life he lived and the choices he made, this extraordinary man left lessons for us all. He shaped history, but his quiet dignity, his wisdom and his wit endeared him to millions worldwide.

“While Madiba’s death brings deep sorrow across the world, we also celebrate his long and momentous life. South Africa, Africa, the Commonwealth, and the world are today enriched by it.

“His visionary leadership, and his generosity of spirit, will remain an inspiration as South Africa continues its journey along the Commonwealth paths of diversity, development and democracy. Let our meditations on his life and legacy move us to action, and may each of us, in some measure, aspire to follow in his footsteps.

“On behalf of the entire Commonwealth family, I convey our deepest condolences to Mr Mandela's wife Graça and his entire family. We stand together with the people of South Africa at this time of national mourning.”