New Delhi, Jul 23: Nelson Mandela, the former South African president on Tuesday, July 22 honoured with 'Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace-2008' ''for touching hearts of people across the world with contributions and sacrifices.'' Mandela who celebrated his 90 birthday on Friday, July 18 was not present in the function. His long-time prison comrade and political adviser, Ahmed Kathrada, received it on his behalf.
The award was instituted by Durban-based Mahatma Gandhi Development Trust and The Satyagraha Organisation in 2003. The award was given away by another former prison comrade Billy Nair, who spent 20 years on Robben Island prison. On behalf of the anti-apartheid leader Kathrada said, ''I (Mandela) am honoured to receive the award because I was influenced to a great extent by the actions and teachings of Gandhiji.'' Speaking about Mandela he said, ''The first thing people must know about Mandela is that he is not a saint. He is a human being and like all of us he has human weaknesses.'' ''He had always striven for a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa which we must carry forward.''
Indian Consul in Durban, Harsh Varshan Shringla, was also present at the function.