South African president Nelson Mandela died Thursday at 95.
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Current River Coun. Andrew Foulds says Nelson Mandela was one of humanity’s true heroes.
Mandela, who led South Africa out of the apartheid era, spent 27 years in prison for his efforts, before emerging to become the nation’s first black president.
He died Thursday at 95 after a lengthy illness.
Foulds isn’t sure words can come close to paying tribute to what Mandela meant to the world.
“He gave citizens around the world hope, hope that there is justice and he reminded us all that we can all do better. His courage through unbelievable circumstances was incomprehensible,” Foulds said in an email.
“The world mourns a great man, who had an unwavering commitment to his country.”
Foulds, also the NDP’s provincial candidate for Thunder Bay-Superior North, said Mandela set an example that all should strive to live up to and emulate.
”The personal quality that I will remember as truly setting this man apart was in the face of hatred, of violence, of (nearly) 30 years of incarceration, he was able to forgive. Because he knew love was better,” Foulds said.
“When I heard the news my heart just sank. I am so sad. I am just glad that I was at least alive to see Madiba’s long walk to freedom.”
Mayor Keith Hobbs called him courageous, tenacious and a man with a heart of gold.
"If only all world leaders could be like him what a great world it would be. Heaven is a better place today,” Hobbs said.
Born on July 18, 1918, Mandela became politically active in his 20s, joining the anti-apartheid movement and the African National Congress, which he joined in 1942.
In 1962 he was arrested after leading a three-day strike and sentenced to five years in prison. A year later he was back on trial and sentenced to life in prison for poltical crimes, including sabotage. His imprisonment made him the focus of a wold-wide campaign to free him, but Mandela remained behind bars for 27 years.
Mandela was released from prison in 1990. A year later he was elected to lead the African National Congress, promising to continue the armed struggle he helped start until South Africa's blacks were given the right to vote.
He worked with President F.W. de Klerk to negotiate the end to apartheid, and the two were awared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. Mandela in 1994 became the country's first black president, serving one four-year term before retiring -- though he never stepped away from the global spotlight.
At-large Coun. Iain Angus said he fondly recalls the free-Mandela rallies held round the world, particularly one at Wimbledon that focused international pressure on the democratic countries of the world to act.
"I also rememember vividly his release from prison and when he emerged from the hotel balcony to the roar of the crowd. That was very moving," Angus said. "(He was) a remarkable man who left a legacy that will be remembered and honoured for many years to come."
Coun. Ken Boshcoff agreed Mandela was an inspiration to all.
"As an activist from my earliest days it was clear that the messages of Nelson Mandela exemplified the truest commitment to faith in the goodness of humankind," Boshcoff said.
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