Whilst we are always keen on highlighting all the latest news and trends in Ireland today I thought we would turn our gaze to international news as word has come through of the death of the great South African leader and world icon Nelson Mandela who died peacefully at the age of 95 in the comfort of his home last night (6:50 p.m. Irish time) after a long illness.
The news comes as a special film biopic chronicling his life Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was premiered in London. The freedom fighter, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president was known around the world as one of the greatest and most respected leaders of the 20th century who helped to end South Africa’s apartheid and bring democracy to his country following his release from prison in the 1990’s.
It was his continued fight for freedom and justice and the lack of bitterness towards those who imprisoned him for 27 years allied with his personal dignity and inherent humanity which made him an inspiration to many people worldwide including many here in Ireland. He was a leader who inspired people of all ages and nationalities, his fame transcending nations and politics.
Over the years we in Ireland were fortunate to have had the great man was a special guest during trips to Ireland on several occasions. His first visit to Ireland was in 1990 with then wife Winnie Mandela shortly after being released from prison. He was also in Ireland in 2000 where he was given an honorary doctorate from Trinity College and was last here for the 2003 Special Olympics where he was one of the brightest stars amongst a host of well known celebrities present.
Upon news of his death tributes continue come in from around the world from people of all ages and nationalities, from celebrities to leaders and statesmen who all have noted how the great man had inspired and impressed them. To our current president Micheal D Higgins, Nelson Mandela was “one of history’s greatest leaders; a man who’s unprecedented courage and dedication broke down the cruel barriers of apartheid in South Africa”. Whilst our taoiseach Enda Kenny noted that upon his death “a great light has been extinguished”.
A leader as well as a cultural and historic icon and figure who inspired people from around the world he will continue to be remembered for his inherent greatness and humanity for years to come. Indeed we will be able to see his story on film as his biopic is set to premier in Ireland in the New Year.
And we end this post with a quote from his good friend and fellow human rights campaigner and our former Irish president Mary Robinson who worked closely with him on a many occasions.
“As we mourn the passing of this extraordinary man, we can honour him best by giving of ourselves to others” — Former Irish president Mary Robinson