A great light has been extinguished.
We mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela, an exceptional man, one of those who revives our faith in Man, in the destiny of Humanity.
When he stood up to the odious Apartheid system, I admired a man who fought for freedom, a man who held his head high and stood up straight in face of ordeals, who remained faithful to his vow of non-violence, taken in homage to Mahatma Gandhi. While every effort was made to break him, to push him to take up arms, the only weapons he ever wanted to use were courage in the face of oppression, the peaceful gathering of people, dialogue, and reconciliation.
He won the war against racism and segregation by the sheer force of his convictions, by gathering his people and the ANC around him. Moreover, he won the battle for peace by building a state of law that brought together Blacks and Whites behind a shared project, that of a diverse, tolerant, and democratic South Africa.
I warmly remember all our encounters as the greatest moments of my life, with that special feeling that one experiences in the presence of those rare individuals who accomplish the extraordinary with the humility, the smile, and the humor of the very greatest.
Farewell to you, Nelson Mandela. May your memory forever light the way for an Africa determined to conquer peace and progress for all.