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SOAS pays tribute to greatest statesman of our time

Nelson Mandela statue

6 December 2013

SOAS, University of London has expressed its great sadness at the death of former South African leader Nelson Mandela.

Professor Paul Webley, the School’s Director, said: “SOAS has a long and deep association with Africa and with the desire of the peoples of Africa to be free. It will be a long time before the world sees another person who will match Mandela’s dignity, courage and immense humanity in leading the South African struggle for freedom.

“Nelson Mandela was the driving force behind the foundation of the new South Africa. His death is an immense loss to South Africa and the world. As the greatest statesman of our time, he will remain an inspiration for today and tomorrow’s global leaders.”

Chair of the Centre of African Studies Dr Mike Jennings described Mandela as “one of the giants of the twentieth century”. He said: “His courage in facing the evil oppression and violence of Apartheid, the bravery of engaging in talks with that government (at a time when official ANC policy was never to hold such talks), and the statesmanship with which he led the country through the transition to democracy and reconciliation, stand as a testament to his vision and commitment to a country based on equality and dignity.”

The School cherishes its connection with Graça Machel, the School’s President and widow of Mandela. SOAS sends its deepest condolences. Professor Webley added: “We would like to add our voices to those of the public in South Africa and across the world in sending our heartfelt good wishes and support to Graça Machel and the Mandela family at this very difficult time.”