‘AN EPIC STORY’: Former South African president Nelson Mandela addresses a gathering during his visit to Trinidad and Tobago in 2004. At left is then CONCACAF president Jack Warner and former prime minister Patrick Manning, right. Mandela died at his home in South Africa at the age of 95 yesterday. —Photo: Jermaine Cruickshank

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Kamla: We have lost a freedom fighter

 Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said last night that the world had lost a freedom fighter and statesman with the death of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela.

 Mandela died yesterday at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the age of 95.

The Prime Minister said: “The world has lost democracy’s most loyal friend and advocate. Nelson Mandela was the 20th century’s icon of freedom and liberty. 

“He inspired us to believe that no obstacle is too large; no walk is too long, and no enemy of freedom is so powerful, that we should ever consider giving in. 

“His life will surely become one of the epic stories in world history, of the true depth and strength of the human spirit. 

“He inspired us with his life, his words, his work and his triumph.”

 Persad-Bissessar said Mandela will forever be remembered as a man who fought for freedom and won it for millions around the world,  without once compromising his beliefs or his principles. 

“The legacy he has left us is one we shall always celebrate and we shall always thank God for Nelson Mandela. 

“The prayers, love and support of the people of Trinidad and Tobago are with his family and those close to him.

“May he rest in peace knowing that he leaves behind many who will continue his fight,” the Prime Minister added.

Independent Liberal Party interim leader Jack Warner said yesterday there was much for humanity to learn from the legacy of Mandela.

In a statement on Mandela’s death, Warner said Mandela was “one of the most remarkable and inspiring change agents of our time. 

“His struggle against the brutal and racist apartheid system and his commitment to that fight — even in the face of a lifetime prison sentence which saw him spending 27 years behind bars from 1964 — is testimony that one must never give up or give in where one’s beliefs are concerned, no matter what the cost”.

“Mandela showed us by his determination that oppressive regimes and unjust systems can never last as long as the people keep hope in their hearts and he inspired that hope. In trying to change the lives of his people, Mandela changed his country and the entire world.

“As an individual and a leader, Mandela would be remembered for his gentle personality that commanded respect and adoration. He was a person who knew how to relate to other people with respect that would in turn lead them to reciprocate.

“He also possessed a very philosophical mind that informed his words and actions, and one of his numerous utterances that will remain relevant for all of time is that “a country is judged not by the way it treats its highest citizens but by the lowest ones.”

In April 2004, Mandela visited Trinidad, on the invitation of then CONCACAF president Warner. 

He was in the Caribbean representing the South African government in its bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. 

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