Washington, Dec 5: Remembering Nelson Mandela on his first death anniversary, US President Barack Obama on Friday said that the struggle and sacrifices of the anti-apartheid leader inspire people to stand up for fundamental principles. [South Africa remembers Nelson Mandela]
"On this first anniversary of the passing of Nelson Mandela, Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Mandela family and all South Africans," Obama said. "One year ago the world lost a leader whose struggle and sacrifices inspired us to stand up for our fundamental principles, whose example reminded us of the enduring need for compassion, understanding, and reconciliation, and whose vision saw the promise of a better world," he said.
Mandela, South Africa's first elected black president and a global anti-apartheid icon, died on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95. He spent 27 years in prison, most of them on Robben Island. He stepped down after serving one term as President following the first democratic elections in 1994.
"As we pause today to remember the legacy of Madiba, I hope we can all take a moment to reflect on how Mandela's life has inspired our own, and will impact the paths of generations to come including the next generation of world leaders, as while Mandela left behind a world more just and free, there is much more work to be done," Obama said in a statement. US Secretary of State John Kerry said the legacy of Mandela motivated all.
"You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who touched as many lives on a global basis as Nelson Mandela. He had a profound effect on my wife Teresa when she was a young girl in school in South Africa, and his example motivated her and her classmates to demonstrate on campus against apartheid. He helped spark and motivate my daughter Vanessas interest in Africa and in global health. His influence was cross-cutting and powerful," he said.
"Teresa and I had the honor of sitting with Mandela over the Thanksgiving holidays in 2007. I was struck by his warmth, openness, and serenity. I wondered how this man rejected enmity and still managed to see so clearly the best interests of his country," he said. "Mandela has left South Africans -- and the world -- an incredible legacy of reconciliation, freedom, and equality. To the people of South Africa, we thank you for sharing Madiba with the rest of the world.
"We stand with you today in remembrance of the life of this great man who hoped to be remembered not as a saint, but as a human being, a real person who made difficult decisions and that makes him even more relevant, not less," Kerry said.