United Nations - The Executive Director of UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, on Friday said the world had lost a true statesman, a leader and a pragmatic visionary, following Nelson Mandela’s death.
Mandela died on Thursday at the age of 95 after a protracted lunch infection.
Osotimehin said the former South African president and anti-apartheid legend was a formidable and tireless champion of human rights.
He said the deceased struggled to address inequality and indignity wherever he found them whether in his own country or beyond South Africa’s borders.
“Having won the battle against oppression in his own country, Mandela’s influence and inspiration were truly global.”
“He was called on to mediate conflicts across Africa and the Middle East, in each case, applying his deeply held belief that reconciliation, negotiation and inclusion of all sides in a conflict were the only ways to move forward in an impasse.”
“When he took on the fight against AIDS in Africa, he invoked the language of the struggle, insisting that HIV and AIDS was not just a disease, but also a human rights issue,” Osotimehin said.
He added that Mandela was determined to break the stigma surrounding the pandemic and make it a priority on the political agenda.
The UNFPA executive director said the former South African president made a personal decision to make public the fact that his own son had died of AIDS-related complications.
“It was this humanity and honesty that defined Mandela and set him apart as one of the most influential and transformative leaders of our time.”
“His deep conviction, passion, humility and courage characterised everything he did and drove his enormous efforts in addressing some of the most challenging and enduring issues facing our world.”
“He fought against injustice, poverty, the right to education, the safety and protection of children.”
According to him, Mandela never allowed the physical restraints of prison to limit his potential as a human being.
“In the face of adversity, he cultivated forgiveness; in the face of captivity and injustice, he grew more determined to commit himself to ensuring the rights and freedoms of others.”
“In the face of cruelty, he mastered compassion.”
Mandela autobiography, 'Long Walk To Freedom', Oshotimehin quotes, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
“I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”