President Barack Obama said Thursday that the late Nelson Mandela was one of the most “influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth.”
He called the former South African president, who died Thursday at 95, “an example that all humanity can aspire to.”
The president quoted Mandela’s words from the 1964 trial where he was sentenced to a Robbins Island prison for 27 years for standing up to South Africa’s Apartheid regime. Mandela said the ideal of all people living in freedom and harmony was “an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Obama also recalled Mandela’s importance in his own life. Both were the first black presidents of their respective nations, countries with long, painful histories of racism. Obama said his first political act was joining in a protest against Apartheid.
“We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again,” Obama said, adding that it was up to all of us to live as Mandela would “to make decisions guided not by hate but by love, to never discount the difference that a person can make, to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.”
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