Thursday, April 18, 2024

Mandela salute

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THE WORLD PAUSED yesterday as tens of thousands great and small, from presidents to those of the humblest occupations, converged in rainy Johannesburg to commemorate the life of the great Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Their beloved “Madiba”, South Africa’s first black president who died last Thursday at the age of 95, was remembered by eminent leaders from across the globe, members of royalty, celebrities and average people who wept but also celebrated under gray skies at the FNB Stadium – the venue where Mandela delivered his first speech upon his release from prison 23 years ago.
As 90 000 gathered in the soccer stadium on a day that coincided with United Nations Human Rights Day, a rainbow of colours predominated as people waved flags, sang and listened intently to some of the speeches, particularly that of the first black United States President Barack Obama.
Obama, after shaking hands with Cuban president Raoul Castro – an unprecedented gesture between two nations that have opposed each other since the early 1960s – described his late South African counterpart as “a giant of history”; while on the floor of Barbados’ Parliament each member rose yesterday to hail the man whom they called a hero.

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