Tribute to Nelson Mandela

Addressed by Tan Sri Lim, at Nelson Mandela Foundation, South Africa
19 June 2008

It is truly an honour and a privilege to be here to pay the highest tribute that this University is able to, to a man who exemplifies the best qualities attainable by humanity.

A man respected, admired, loved by peoples across the world as a role model of a moral leader.

A statesman who rose above hate and vengeance to embrace peace and reconciliation, a man whose courage, wisdom, visionary leadership and almost unhuman–like capacity to forgive continue to inspire peoples far beyond South Africa.

Without doubt, His Excellency Nelson Mandela′s willingness to walk the road of sacrifice distinguishes him as one of the greatest symbols of resilience, tolerance, non–violence and moral integrity of our age. Perhaps of all ages.

He has redefined the concept of leadership.

He has proved through his own example that faith, hope and charity are qualities not beyond the attainment by humanity.

Because of him, the world is a better place. Because of him, the world is working to be a kinder place.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

The world loves this man.

He has been given countless awards by countries right around the world.

Films on Mandela have been made, books about Mandela have been written, songs dedicated to Mandela have been recorded in many languages.

This is one man who has crossed all religious and racial barriers, a man who inspires peoples across all divides, all around the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

I count myself as among those privileged to have known His Excellency Nelson Mandela, worked and walked for a short while with him during his untiring efforts to bring closure to the apartheid era and to build a bridge of reconciliation in a nation torn by racial divisions for centuries.

It was in 1993, while preparing for South Africa′s first democratic elections, that I met Nelson Mandela.

In May 1994, the ANC′s historic win ended 300 years of minority rule, restoring dignity and rights to South Africa′s majority.

That was an experience I will always remember. I have learnt much from the people I have had the opportunity to work with. Many of them I deeply admire, many are now national or provincial leaders of this country.

When I came to South Africa in 1993, this university was in its infancy. My mission was then limited to accomplishing national goals in my own country.

My exposure to the leadership of His Excellency Nelson Mandela inspired a change in my own priorities and set this university on a path today has brought us to set up universities in Africa.

It is upon Mandela′s vision that I have built my own mission to work with the people of Africa, to develop Africa′s next generation of leaders and thinkers, to help build human capital in Africa.

This is where I believe we can make a difference, where we can make a contribution, however small it may be.

Ladies and gentlemen.

His Excellency Nelson Mandela once said, and I quote, "The history of the struggle in South Africa is rich with the stories of heroes and heroines, some of them leaders, some of them followers. All of them deserve to be remembered."

Surely, his words are as true for this great continent as they are for his own country.

And surely this man is the greatest hero in a land that is not short of such great people.

Today we recognise this hero whose struggle for humanity continues to inspire people across the world by conferring upon him the title Doctor in Humanity.

To conclude, may I now introduce a short film written to capture the legacy of a man who has become the world′s best known and best loved hero of our time.

I thank you for the opportunity.

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