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Tribute to Nelson Mandela

Tribute to Nelson Mandela

Published on December 6, 2013
Communiqués and Statements from the French Authorities

Tribute by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic
Paris, 6 December 2013

Dear friends,

Before our Summit [for Peace and Security in Africa] had even begun, we were hit by some very sad news: that Nelson Mandela had died. That is why, at this very moment, as we meet, I wanted to say the words that you could say in my place, at this very moment.

The world is in mourning.

Nelson Mandela left us yesterday. He had already made history in his lifetime. In death, he takes his place in the universal consciousness.
Nelson Mandela changed much more than South Africa. He sped up the course of the world, armed only with his principles and a steadfast will. He managed to win every battle he led and joined.

Nelson Mandela withstood 27 years of confinement. He defeated the appalling apartheid system. He reached out to his oppressors. He established democracy in a country that didn’t know it. He made South Africa a power, yes, but a power in the service of peace.

Mandela is an example. An example of resistance in the face of oppression. An example of freedom in the face of injustice. An example of dignity in the face of humiliation. An example of clear-sightedness in the face of intolerance. An example of forgiveness in the face of hatred. An example of lucidity in the face of the excesses of power. An example of intelligence in the face of ordeals. That is what Mandela was and still is today.

And if he became a hero, a global hero, it is because he was profoundly human and profoundly good. Both in his Robben Island prison and as the leader of South Africa, he was the same man, with the same straightforwardness, the same modesty and the same smile. This humanity was summed up by him in these beautiful words: “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same”.

Nelson Mandela is no longer with us, but his message will live on and continue to inspire new generations. Nelson Mandela will always be the figure around whom men and women fighting for their rights will want to unite. Yes, he will always be the reference point for those who continue their unending fight against racism, discrimination and all forms of intolerance and injustice. Nelson Mandela will always be the figure to whom peoples fighting for their freedom and emancipation will turn.

My dear friends,

Destiny decreed that Africa should be gathered here in Paris, for a summit on peace and security, the day after the passing of Nelson Mandela. This is both a symbol and something which demands responsible action.

France, the country of human rights, pays tribute to Nelson Mandela. France shares the sorrow of the people of South Africa who have just lost the father of their nation. France expresses its solidarity with all Africans, represented here by heads of state, heads of government and ministers. Now more than ever, France remembers Mandela’s message of hope for people the world over.

We are duty-bound by this message, and France will, in its place, do everything necessary to be worthy of it.

Today, it is Nelson Mandela who is presiding over the work of this summit.

Thank you./.


Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic
Paris, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela made history. The history of South Africa. The history of the whole world.

A tireless fighter against apartheid, he brought it down through his courage, stubborn determination and perseverance.

Despite the personal ordeals and the interminable humiliations of a detention that lasted 27 years, he was able not only to topple a despicable regime but also to reconcile South Africans and ensure democracy prevailed.

For all those years, Nelson Mandela was the embodiment of the South African nation, the glue that bound it together and the pride of all Africa. He directed all his energy into his country having its rightful place among the leading world powers. He personally committed himself everywhere to finding solutions to conflicts that had dragged on for too long. Right until the very end of his life, he served peace.

Nelson Mandela’s message will not disappear: it will continue to inspire freedom fighters and give confidence to peoples defending just causes and universal rights.

Nelson Mandela was an exceptional resistance figure and a magnificent victor.

He showed that the human spirit could not only break the chains of servitude but also unleash the energy to successfully build a common destiny.

France shares the infinite sadness of the South African people.

I extend to Graça Machel and Nelson Mandela’s other family members and close friends the whole French people’s most sincere condolences./.


Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Prime Minister
Paris, 5 December 2013

I was extremely sad to learn of Nelson Mandela’s death.

Throughout his life, he bravely fought for justice and against the utterly despicable apartheid system. By sheer tenacity, he guided his people towards freedom and dignity.

The first black president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela governed with wisdom and integrity for unity and reconciliation. His battle against racism and for freedom went beyond the borders of his country to acquire a global dimension.

It is therefore with respect and humility that I bow to the memory of this extraordinary man, who will long be a source of inspiration for the whole of mankind./.


Communiqué issued by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Paris, December 5, 2013

"With Nelson Mandela, we mourn the passing away of the father of South Africa, the pillar of the struggle for freedom and the builder of reconciliation.

Universally admired, his life gives the word “humanity” its full meaning. I personally admired him all the more as the fight against apartheid has been one of the causes I have constantly and vigorously defended.

I wish to pay tribute to the towering charismatic leader who has left us, and I extend to his family, his friends, his country, my deepest condolences."


Portrait of Nelson Mandela - Communiqué issued by Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Hanging the portrait of Nelson Mandela on [the façade of] the Foreign Ministry is intended as a tribute to this very exceptional servant of peace and fraternity, which are also France’s values.

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