Banda: Mandela – the great son of Africa

15 December 2013 9:03 PM

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Gia Kaplan | Today, 11:46

QUNU – Southern African Development Community chairperson and Malawian president Joyce Banda says Nelson Mandela's courage, determination, love and passion for his people inspired her journey to become the first female president of Malawi. Banda said Mandela's legacy influenced her own political life, where she had to forgive those who had tried to stop her becoming president and said Mandela's example inspired her. “When I became president of Malawi, I had been isolated, humiliated and there was an assassination attempt on my life. I found myself in a situation where I had to work with those same people who had prevented me from becoming president of my country. I had to forgive and do so without any effort because my Madiba had prepared me.” “I learnt leadership is about falling in love with the people you serve, and them falling in love with you. It is about serving the people with selflessness, sacrifice and the need to put common good ahead of personal interest.” Banda said when she first met Mandela during his visit to Malawi after his release from prison. she was amazed by his humility and his great sense of leadership. She added that after visiting Robben Island a few years later, she became greatly touched by his story. Since then, she has sought to know and understand this "great son of Africa". “I read and read about anything I could lay my hands on about him.” Banda said a few years later, when she visited his home in Johannesburg, they had a very moving conversation. “I was deeply touched by his speed of forgiveness, his passion to put people first and his courage. These attributes have greatly influenced my life.” She referred to Mandela's death as an "irreplaceable loss" to South Africa, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and the world. “The SADC region will remember him for his wisdom and his statesmanship, his humility and sense of humour and his leadership style.” She said Mandela championed the freedom of not only South Africans, but all Africans and said he was a man who worked tirelessly to promote national, regional and world peace. “He taught us that even when the challenges of life seem insurmountable with courage and determination we can overcome the evils of our society.” She said Mandela's words still echo in the minds of all South Africans and Africans. “To let people find their voice and restore their dignity. His words will continue to inspire the SADC long after Madiba is gone.” She paid tribute to Winnie Madikizela–Mandela for standing by Mandela during his imprisonment and being at the forefront of the ANC's struggle for liberation as well as to Graca Machel for her visible love and care for Mandela during the last days of his life. Banda also thanked Zuma “for leading the nation to mourn our president like the hero that he is". “You have done your level best. This wasn't a wedding, this was a funeral, and you made every effort to make sure we bury our father with dignity.” In the same spirit, she appealed to him and all South Africans to remain united and continue to be a rainbow nation. “This is what Tata Madiba cherished. It is our hope and prayer that South Africa remains a country of all people.”


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