- Authorities in the United Kingdom have unveiled a statue of the former South African President, Nelson Mandela, in London.
Flanked by his Mozambican wife, Graca Machel, Mandela joined British officials, including the Prime Minister Gordon Brown to witness the symbolic and historic occasion.
After five years of intense debate, British officials finally agreed to erect Mandela’s statue in Parliament Square in, Central London, in April. It is erected close to those of the former British Prime Ministers, Winston Churchill and Benjamin Israeli.
The statue idea came from the skull of the late South African anti-apartheid activist, Donald Woods.
Prime Minister Brown praised Nelson as the "greatest and most courageous leader of our generation".
Mandela told the ceremony thus: "Though this statue is of one man, it should in actual fact symbolise all of those who have resisted oppression, especially in my country."
A trustee of the Mandela Statue Fund, Lord Richard Attenborough, hailed the bravery of Mr Woods.
"He fled his country with his wife and five children and came here as a refugee, thrown out by the apartheid system," Lord Attenborough said, adding that Woods “would have given anything to have been here today because it was his concept."
Mr Woods’ wife, Wendy was in attendance. "This statue will remind the world of the human qualities that Mr Mandela has,” she boldly said.
"These are qualities which have helped South Africa put paid to its past and helped us on our first step towards a future where all people can flourish and lead happier lives."
Mr Livingstone said Mandela will ever be remembered for teaching the world the “amazing truth” and that “justice can be achieved without vengeance. I honour you and London honours you."
Mandela, 89, had dedicated his entire life to fight against apartheid, inequality and repression in South Africa. His price was to spend 27 years in jail in Robben Island, Western Cape. Mandela’s unshaken courage, determination and strife for justice for all South Africans [blacks, whites or coloureds] earned him the first black President of a new South Africa in 1994.
Mandela asked South Africans to throw away racial or other differences and unite for national building. He stepped down after serving only one term in office. Mandela continues to earn the greatest respect in the world. He had bagged so many distinguished world awards, including the Nobel Prize.
A Nigerian author of The Indispensable Visionary, Dr. Emma Etuk, named Mandela among the world's sixth most influentical visionary leaders. Others were Prophet Moses, Jesus, Muhammed, Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr.
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