Following a long period of ill health, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela passed away on Thursday, December 5, aged 95. He will always beremembered for bringing the apartheid regime to an end in South Africa and served as president of the country from 1994 to 1999.
Imprisoned in 1962 for conspiracy to overthrow the South African racist state, he spent 27 years in the prison of Robben Island before being released in 1990.
He then set about negotiations with the then president, F.W De Clerk, to bring about the end of the apartheid regime, a process that ended in both men receiving the Nobel prize for peace.
MP Stephen Crabb had this to say in tribute to Nelson Mandela: “Like many of my generation, I first got to know the name of Nelson Mandela through some of bands of the 1980s. I remember seeing U2 in Cardiff in 1987 when the crowd in the Arms Park was urged to ‘remember Mandela’.
“The Anti-Apartheid cause was in the very bloodstream of popular music at the time and, for us, Mandela became a word that represented struggle against oppression and injustice. What we didn’t really understand at that moment was the quality of Nelson Mandela as a man – the sense of hope and optimism that poured out of him, and the seemingly limitless reserves of forgiveness he was able to draw on following his release from prison.
“His extraordinary appearance at the 1995 rugby world cup final showed us Mandela as a man and a leader. Wearing the Springbok jersey, hated by black South Africans as a symbol of white tyranny, he was asking his nation to embrace the forgiveness and reconciliation which defined his own life.
“As a politician I regard him as one of the outstanding examples of someone driven by a sense of purpose and mission, but rooted in eternal values, with the capacity to endure extreme pain and hardship and yet forgive, and with the vision to change the face of his country. Truly, a life well lived”.
Simon Hart, MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire said: “Nelson Mandela was remarkable in that few world figures have ever touched the lives of so many people from so many different cultures. So, whether it is the people of South Africa, or even those in our own county, this man has changed our lives and our world for the better.”
Angela Davies, AM for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, said: “Few people and certainly no other politician has inspired generations of people like ‘Mandiba’ Mandela. He truly was a father to so many, whether in South Africa or any other country in the world; he became a beacon of hope and forgiveness to us all”.
Pembrokeshire County Council Leader, Jamie Adams, added to the tributes, saying: “Nelson Mandela’s legacy will live on for generations in South Africa and his name is etched on the pages of history”.
His legacy will be one of peace as he sought to end apartheid not through a process of revenge and retribution but through reconciliation and truth.