EU Flags are flying at half mast at the European Commission and the European Parliament as Europe pays tribute to a man who spent 27 years in jail to defend freedom and defeat racism.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela died on Thursday at the age of 95, leaving the world mourning one of the greatest figures of the 20th century.
EU leaders gave their condolences on Friday, calling him a person ‘with profound humanity, moral integrity and authority’.
‘There are some persons that we will never like to know that they have disappeared; Nelson Mandela was one of those persons, a great man that left his mark not only in his native South Africa, not only in Africa but all overt the world. His name will be not only in the history books but in the hearts and minds of many people around the world that we will never forget his example of courage and freedom but also of tolerance and spirit of reconciliation.’ said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Mandela fought against the South African white-minority regime that implemented apartheid, a strong segregation between black and white people.
After serving 27 years of a life sentence in prison for treason, he finally left jail in 1990 and became the country’s first president to be elected in a fully representative, multiracial election.
‘The South African Defence Force has no right to kill people; there are legal means of protecting people; this is an act of thuggery and pure terrorism which was strongly condemned’, said former South African President and Nobel Peace Price laureate Nelson Mandela.
In recognition of his struggle and his leading role in the drive for peace, Mandela was awarded the first European Parliament Sakharov Prize in 1988, the top EU human rights award. He was also honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Nelson Mandela is expected to receive a full state funeral in Johannesburg on Monday.