All of us in The Bahamas are in deep sympathy with Mrs. Mandela, the Mandela family and the Government and people of South Africa as they mourn the loss of their beloved former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. At the same time we celebrate with them his extraordinary life and example to the world.
Nelson Mandela placed his indelible stamp on the history of humankind late in the 20th century, a century which saw the most tumultuous upheavals, the
greatest wars and conflicts and, perhaps, the greatest cast of leaders ever to assemble on the world stage.
He led no great armies on the bloody battlefields of the planet and no cities were laid waste at his command. Yet, there was no leader greater than he
and none who so captured the sustained universal imagination across the boundaries of nationality and the divisions of race, ethnicity and religion.
He was the proponent of no earth-shaking philosophy save one, and that was the concept of the oneness of all humanity and, therefore, the denial of any
philosophy that would divide humankind one from another or place any race in a position of domination over another.
He vigorously resisted injustice, and especially the horrid injustices and humiliations born of racism which denies the fundamental equality of the
human family. Indeed, he suffered the deprivation of his own personal freedom as a prisoner of racism for 27 years.
But during those long years he towered over those whose souls were distorted and diminished by racism and their own hatreds. He realized that they, too, were in prisons of their own making and he offered them a path to liberation.
Mr. Mandela refused to allow his own soul to be disfigured by the harrowing experience of prolonged incarceration and, instead, became a fountain of redemption for his own people and — the greater miracle — for their persecutors.
It would have been so easy and even understandable after his victory had he demanded every ounce of justice due him and his disparaged people, even a measure of revenge.
Instead, he was moved by an extraordinary nobility of soul and transcendent intelligence to seek reconciliation rather than retaliation, and an end to the domination of one over the other. Thus he became a living example of the possibilities of reconciliation for a world tom apart by hatreds and conflicts.
The mortal remains of Nelson Mandela will be treated in accordance with tradition but the example of his nobility of character, his willingness to pay the price of his convictions, his demonstration of the possibilities of reconciliation, and his belief in the oneness of humanity will remain as long as the memory of human civilization.
May he rest in peace.