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“Viva Mandela forever”- Rousseff
December 10, 2013, 12:58 pm

[Getty Images]

President Rousseff (right) said Mandela led with “passion and intelligence” and would always be a pillar of support for the Brazilian government and the people [Getty Images]

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee were among the six chosen heads of state who addressed a huge gathering at Tuesday’s ceremony in Johannesburg to bid farewell to South Africa’s beloved Madiba.

“I bring the feeling of deep regret of the Brazilian government and our people and I’m sure all of Latin America and the Caribbean,” said President Rousseff.

Mandela, Rousseff said, led with “passion and intelligence” and would always be a pillar of support for the Brazilian government and the people.

“Viva Mandela forever,” said Rousseff to cheering crowds in a packed stadium on a rainy Tuesday morning.

Brazil has maintained strong ties with post apartheid South Africa. Tuesday’s choice of heads of state who were asked to deliver farewell speeches at the Johannesburg stadium reflected the south-south ties that has become a corner-stone of South Africa’s foreign policy.

Cuban leader Raul Castro and Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao also paid their tributes to the icon of peace and freedom.

“Mandela was the pride of the African people,” said Yuanchao. Mandela had helped forge Sino-South African ties and twice visited China in 1992 and 1999.

President Mukherjee told mourning South Africans that, “India stands by you in your hour of grief”.

“Mandela is a reflection of our own anti colonial struggle led by Gandhi,” said Mukherjee.

US President Barack Obama in his address said the world will never see the likes of Mandela again. He hailed Mandela as the last great liberator of the 20th century.

“Mandela taught us the power of ideas…On core principles he was unyielding…there is a word in South Africa – ubuntu – a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift – his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye…It took Madiba to free not just the prisoner but the gaoler as well,” said President Obama in his address.

In one of the most moving addresses on Tuesday, UN Chief Ban Ki Moon said “[Today] we see leaders representing many points of view & people from all walks of life. All here, all united.”

Mandela will be laid to rest in his hometown Qunu on December 15.

Claude Colart for The BRICS Post

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