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Mandela's 'Long Walk to Freedom' was Africa's story too

Sarah Evans

Africa's heads of state have paid tribute to former president Nelson Mandela, who they say shaped democracy on the continent.

Former president Nelson Mandela. (AP)

The continent's leaders have described Nelson Mandela as one of the greatest figures of contemporary Africa.

Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama said: "It is no coincidence that in the years since Mandela's release, so much of Africa has turned toward democracy and the rule of law. His utilisation of peace as a vehicle of liberation showed Africa that if we were to move beyond the divisiveness caused by colonisation and the pain of our self-inflicted wounds, compassion and forgiveness must play a role in governance."

"The Long Walk to Freedom was also Africa's story. The indignation that once permeated our continent has been replaced by inspiration. The undercurrent of pessimism resulting from the onslaught of maladies – wars, coups, disease, poverty and oppression – has given way to a steadily increasing sense of possibility. It wasn't just Nelson Mandela who was transformed during those years of his imprisonment. We all were. And Africa is all the better because of that."

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan said: "Mandela will always be remembered and honoured by all mankind as one of its greatest liberators, a wise, courageous and compassionate leader, and an icon of true democracy. Mandela's death will create a huge vacuum that will be difficult to fill in our continent." 

Senegal's President Macky Sall said: "We have lost a giant, one of the greatest figures in contemporary Africa. No man of our time has given so much for the cause of his people, for Africa, and for the good of mankind. Nelson Mandela taught us courage, strength, forgiveness. He showed us that a human being could be better."

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said in a tweet: "Madiba, South Africa's first post-apartheid president, passes on. But what is certain is he will continue to live in the hearts of many of us. Rest in peace."


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