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Ramotar heads to South Africa for Mandela’s funeral

President Donald Ramotar signs the Book of Condolence for the late Neslon Mandela.

President Donald Ramotar on Saturday left Guyana for South Africa to attend a funeral service for late former President, Nelson Mandela.

He died on Wednesday at 95.

Disclosure of Ramotar’s departure was made by Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh at the opening of the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry’s (GBTI) branch at Port Mourant.

Singh apologised for the Guyanese leader’s absence, saying that he had left earlier for South Africa. “He was unable at the last minute to attend because he departed this afternoon, in fact just a few hours ago…

His journey to South Africa to attend the funeral service for he late iconic former President of South Africa, the immeasurable and incomparable global statesman and freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela,” said the Finance Minister.

Except for late President Cheddi Jagan, other Presidents throughout the tenure of the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) very rarely disclose their overseas engagements.

President Donald Ramotar today signed the Book of Condolence for the late anti-apartheid leader, icon and Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. First Lady Deolatchme Ramotar also signed the Book of Condolence.

Mandela, who became one of the world’s most beloved statesmen and a hero of the 20th century when he emerged from 27 years in prison to negotiate an end to white minority rule in South Africa, was 95 when he died on December 4.

In a televised message to the nation, President Ramotar described Mandela’s passing as a “loss not just one for the people of South Africa, but for Africa as a whole, and the world at large. Nelson Mandela was a giant in defence of human rights and for a free and just society, not only for his beloved South Africans, but for the oppressed the world over”.

Mandela died of complications from a recurring lung infection. The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate was a symbol of reconciliation for a country with a brutal history of racism. He was released from prison in 1990 after nearly 30 years for plotting to overthrow South Africa’s apartheid government.

In 1994, in a historic election, he became the nation’s first black president of South Africa, where he brought about a peaceful transition from the white-dominated government to a multi-racial democracy. Mandela stepped down in 1999 after a single term and retired from political and public life. His death closed the final chapter in South Africa’s struggle to cast off apartheid, leaving the world with indelible memories of a man of astonishing grace and good humour.

Born in 1918 in the village of Mveso in Transkei, South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was the son of a tribal chief in Transkei, one of the future “Bantustans” independent republics set up by the apartheid regime to cement the separation of whites and blacks.