Following this morning’s news that the world had lost its shining moral compass, notable figures the world over have publicly mourned the passing of the Rainbow Nation’s iconic first black president Nelson Mandela through gestures as simple as a tweet or a moment of silence prior to the resumption of today’s Ashes, to candlelight vigils and elaborate statements made at press conference that, though grand in nature and heartfelt in sentiment, will inevitably fall short of encompassing all that Madiba achieved and came to embody to billions around the world throughout his ninety-five years. 

Herein, a sampling of statements made by public figures commemorating Mandela’s life lead by President Obama, who is expected to attend Mandela’s funeral in South Africa and described him as “a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice… And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set. And so long as I live, I will do what I can to learn from him.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott reiterated Obama’s sentiments, describing Mandela as “a truly great man” and “one of the great figures of Africa, arguably one of the great figures of the last century,” telling Fairfax radio, “while I never met him, I did read that book A Long Walk To Freedom and I guess the impression we get of Nelson Mandela is someone who suffered but was not embittered but ennobled through that suffering.”

South Africa’s archbishop emeritus and fellow Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu praised his compatriot’s unifying influence, saying “Over the past 24 years Madiba taught us how to come together and to believe in ourselves and each other. He was a unifier from the moment he walked out of prison. We are relieved that his suffering is over, but our relief is drowned by our grief. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”


Idris Elba, who plays Nelson Mandela in A Long Walk To Freedomsaid of the late leader “What an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.” After attending the premiere of A Long Walk To Freedom, Prince William offered his condolences at the “Extremely sad and tragic news. We’re just reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family right now.” Morgan Freeman, who similarly portrayed Mandela in Invictus, shared the following: 

“Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century. Nelson Mandela was a man of incomparable honour, unconquerable strength, and unyielding resolve—a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind. As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we’ve come, but on how far we have to go. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us.”

Boxing legend Muhammed Ali has also issued the following statement: “I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Mandela. His was a life filled with purpose and hope; hope for himself, his country and the world. He inspired others to reach for what appeared to be impossible and moved them to break through the barriers that held them hostage mentally, physically, socially and economically. 

He made us realize, we are our brother’s keeper and that our brothers come in all colours.

What I will remember most about Mr. Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge. He taught us forgiveness on a grand scale. His was a spirit born free, destined to soar above the rainbows. Today his spirit is soaring through the heavens. He is now forever free.”

 


Photo: AFP via Getty