PM for Dec 10 memorial in South Africa

 PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will attend the official State memorial service for late former South African president Nelson Mandela on December 10, where she will also attend as the chair of Caricom.

A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister disclosed yesterday that other heads of government representing the Community at that memorial will include The Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica and Suriname, while Grenada will be represented by its deputy Prime Minister.  

Haitian President Michel Martelly will travel to South Africa for the State funeral to be held on December 15.

Persad-Bisessar, in the House of Parliament on Friday, also invited Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and his wife, Sharon, to join her in attending Mandela’s funeral which begins with the memorial on December 10.

Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and former head of the African National Congress (ANC), died Thursday at the age of 95.

Persad-Bissessar and Caricom secretary general Irwin LaRocque have since joined the international community in hailing Mandela, who LaRocque on Friday called “a moral colossus”. 

The Trinidad and Tobago Parliament on Friday observed a moment of silence for Mandela and for three local icons who passed last week — labour movement pioneer Michael Als, Olympian McDonald Bailey and lawyer Isidore Smart.

Speaking as the chair of Caricom in yesterday’s statement, Persad-Bissessar said, “Mr Mandela displayed qualities which defined the zenith of human behaviour. Forgiveness, humility, integrity and undying love for his fellow human beings, particularly for his country and its people were his hallmark. 

“He led a life that may make emulation almost impossible. His struggles, redemption and victory took us to the zenith of human possibility and left a legacy of inestimable value to the world.”

The Caribbean Community was privileged to have Mr Mandela grace its 25th Anniversary celebrations in St Lucia in 1998, where he met with Heads of Government, the statement read.

“His buoyant spirit and ebullient sense of humour endeared him to all, exemplified as he rose from his seat and danced to the music at the concert to mark the occasion,” Persad-Bissessar said.

“The simplicity with which he conducted his life shone through in the manner in which he interacted with all who came into contact with him.”

Persad-Bissessar said Mandela’s example of sacrifice for principle and ideals in defiance of unspeakable atrocities meted out to his people and denial of his own liberty has inspired millions around the world, while his stature was “defined by his policy of reconciliation without recrimination and bitterness”.

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