UNITED NATIONS: Passionate revolutionary, apostle of peace, champion of human rights, nation builder and beacon of freedom were among the terms of endearment bestowed on former South African President Nelson Mandela during a special meeting of the General Assembly Thursday to pay tribute to his life and memory.
More than 50 representatives, including Pakistan, addressed the 193-member Assembly, many referring to Mandela, who died Dec. 5, by his tribal name, “Madiba”. Touching upon his life’s numerous milestones, delegates chronicled the 27 years he spent in prison for challenging an apartheid government, his emergence into freedom in 1990, his Nobel Peace Prize, his leadership in halting racial segregation and his rise to become the first democratically elected President of South Africa.
Mandela addressed the General Assembly as the first democratically elected President of South Africa in October 1994, but he spoke to a UN audience for the first time on June 8, 1990, in a speech to the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) as the Vice-President of the African National Congress (ANC).
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, describing the services held for Mandela in South Africa last week, which had occurred under heavy rain, told delegates that the weather was almost a reminder that without rain there could be no rainbow. It was now the world’s duty to follow his lead and to follow his rainbow for the global good.
The world must also follow in his footsteps, said General Assembly President John Ashe. “Let us remember that we too must work together to reduce hunger and injustice,” he said, “To build lasting peace and sustainable development, to stop genocide and hunger.”
Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Masood Khan said Mandela had galvanized his nation and many other nations. His death had united people and nations once again, with more than 100 leaders travelling to South Africa to pay homage, including Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain.”
“We are proud that we lived in the times when Nelson Mandela was on this planet. But he truly belongs to the future as much as he belongs to the present,’ he said, adding that the departed leader’s memory would serve as a beacon for coming generations in their quest for justice.