Statement by Secretary Kerry: Remembering the Legacy of President Nelson Mandela

President Nelson Mandela (Dept. of State)
President Nelson Mandela (Dept. of State)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release

Today, we mark one year since the passing of Nelson Mandela, a remarkable journey of life completed, but a legacy that still motivates all of us.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who touched as many lives on a global basis as Nelson Mandela.  He had a profound effect on my wife Teresa when she was a young girl in school in South Africa, and his example motivated her and her classmates to demonstrate on campus against apartheid.  He helped spark and motivate my daughter Vanessa’s interest in Africa and in global health.  His influence was cross-cutting and powerful.

Teresa and I had the honor of sitting with Mandela over the Thanksgiving holidays in 2007.  I was struck by his warmth, openness, and serenity.  I wondered how this man rejected enmity and still managed to see so clearly the best interests of his country.

Mandela has left South Africans — and the world — an incredible legacy of reconciliation, freedom, and equality.  To the people of South Africa, we thank you for sharing Madiba with the rest of the world.  We stand with you today in remembrance of the life of this great man who hoped to be remembered not as a saint, but as a human being, a real person who made difficult decisions – and that makes him even more relevant, not less.