As in life, Nelson Mandala, has now in death, unified millions of people across the world. His stand with the oppressed, his fight against great odds to stop injustices, his struggle for equality, his humbleness and his sheer joy – unite.
Today, the world’s best international sporting teams – football, cricket, rugby and basketball will remember Mandala. Politicians will speak of his contributions.
At the grassroots – unionists, church groups, local sporting teams and the so-called ordinary citizens will also take time to remember their hero – a true champion of the people.
On the Thai Burma border, pro-democracy activists, freedom fighters and human rights advocates paid tribute to Nelson Mandala for the light he shone in their struggle against the military oppression in Burma.
Naw K’nyaw Paw, the Secretary of the Karen Women Organization, spoke to Karen News of her admiration for Nelson Mandala and his principle stand against all forms of oppression.
“Nelson Mandela was an inspiration to all ethnic people through his fight to end injustice and domination of one race over another. We have a similar fight in Burma. If Nelson Mandela could bring down the apartheid government of South Africa we can also bring down the Burmese military backed government and create peace in Burma.”
Naw K’nyaw Paw paid respect to Nelson Mandala for his ability to overcome the huge divides in his country and to be able to unify all factions.
“Through extraordinary leadership Nelson Mandela was able to unify his country. His good work will be remembered and practiced for, not only this generation, but many generations to come.”
Saw Swee Ner, 30, a Karen soldier, who self-describes as a freedom fighter told Karen News of what Nelson Mandala meant to him.
“Nelson Mandela is an inspirational leader for me and for the world. We have lost a leader of the world. He struggled for equal rights for his people. He was very determined and never gave up even though he was put in jail for years. There are similarities in his fight for our Karen struggle. We can learn from him, his determination and his reconciliation approach that brought black and white together in South Africa.”
Naw Htoo Paw, a Karen woman like millions of other people around the world posted her respect for Nelson Mandala on Facebook. “Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela. The mother earth must be always proud for giving birth to a truly human like you. You will always be in human history.”
Saw Kapi, the Director of Salween Institute (www.salweeninstitute.org), noted that at one point in his life Nelson
Mandala was part of the armed struggle to end the oppression of his people and of the apartheid that divided South Africa.
“Nelson Mandela, who founded and commanded Umkhonto we Sizwe, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, passed away. I for one remember him for both his role – as a founder of the armed struggle and as a peacemaker.”
Dr Cynthia Maung, the founder of the Mae Tao Clinic located on the Thai Burma border and the recipient of numerous international human rights awards spoke to Karen News of her great admiration for Nelson Mandala and his work.
“Nelson Mandala’s achievements benefited the world. His leadership was a model and an example for the whole world to follow. He fought for human rights and equality and was a true champion of democracy. He inspired me, and all the pro-democracy people of Burma – his light will continue to shine for us. He will be missed.”