Nelson Mandela is approaching the end of the long walk that he began 95 years ago in Qunu. On his birthday we should commemorate the remarkable contributionthat he has made to South Africa and to all its people.
Today should be a time for quiet and respectful contemplation - and not for unseemly squabbling over the ownership of Mr Mandela’s heritage.
Throughout his life he has been a loyal and stalwart member of the ANC but I believe that through his example and through his unwavering commitment to national reconciliation - all South Africans, regardless of their race or political affiliation, can now proudly call him their own.
Nelson Mandela’s long journey from the rural Transkei to the Presidency of South Africa has come to symbolise the struggle for freedom and for non ‐ racial democracy for the majority of our population. His presidency laid the foundations for national reconciliation and for the emergence of a new diverse and vibrant nation. Nelson Mandela’s place in South Africa’s history is assured. His legacy of courage, perseverance and magnanimity will continue to inspire us - and people throughout the world - for generations to come.
By FW de Klerk