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Exeter's South African community pay tribute to "our father" Nelson Mandela

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: December 06, 2013

  • Book of remembrance for Nelson Mandela at Exeter Cathedral. Picture: Ben Bradshaw

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EXETER’S South African community has been paying tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Described as the “father of freedom” Mr Mandela, 95, took his country out of white-minority rule in the 90s, after spending three decades in prison.

A global icon, his tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world.

But over the last few months he had been having medical treatment at home for a lung infection.

Announcing his death current president of South Africa Jacob Zuma said Mr Mandela had "departed" and was at peace.

He said: "Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”

Since news broke last night words of admiration have been pouring in from all over the world.

Plans are currently being put in place by John Lloyd, who was one of the founders of the anti-apartheid movement in Exeter, to hold a commemoration in Bedford Square, Princesshay on Saturday on 7pm.

And several South Africans, who now live in Exeter, have begun to pay their own tribute.

Nicola Van Staden said: “I was lucky enough to be at Nelson Mandela's 1994 inauguration as a 11 year old girl in South Africa. I was stood in front of his town car when it pulled up and it was at that moment- even as a young child- that I understood the magnitude of what he was doing for my country.

“Nelson Mandela played such a big part in my upbringing, through him we watched our home land become a diverse and ethnically rich country . “The last 19 years, since our Madiba came into power and subsequently retired, is what has made South Africa a special and magical place to visit and live in... And that's thanks to one man and his vision.

“Today we celebrate Nelson Mandela's life, what he did for all his children and what he will continue to do because of his great visions. But bitter sweetly- we say goodbye to a legend who we all saw as our country's father.”

Another Exeter-based South African Kathryn Clarke-Mcleod, said: “ Ngiyabonga Baba. Because of your unimaginable forgiveness and an uncompromising commitment to healing, my beautiful country’s wounds were replaced by the strength of a nation defined by unity and a celebration of difference. Hamba Kahle and Nkosi sikelel’. Shosholoza forever.”

Geronimo Hendricks, of Exeter, who is also of South African origin, added: "Madiba was a beacon of light and hope during South Africa’s darkest period.

"As for millions he is my idol and role model, a symbol for what humanity should be and strive for.

"His presence, humility, guidance and everything he stood for will dearly be missed the world over."

City leaders have also been paying tribute.

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, tweeted: “The anti-apartheid anti-racism cause was what first got me involved in political activity as a teenager #Mandela inspiration thank you.”

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw posted his tribute on Twitter, writing: "The anti apartheid anti racism cause was what first got me involved in political activity as a teenager #Mandela inspiration thank you"

Exeter Labour Party tweeted: “We must never forget his love, strength and forgiveness. A great leader and a great man. Nelson Mandela RIP.”

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