Dalai Lama urges Mandela admirers to transform grief into peacemaking spirit

New Delhi, Dec.6: Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, an admirer of South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero and former president Nelson Mandela, on Friday urged Madiba’s followers to translate their sadness into determination to carry his spirit of peace forward.

Mandela died peacefully at home at the age of 95 on Thursday after months of fighting a lung infection, leaving his nation and the world in mourning for a man revered as a moral giant.

The former president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate had been frail and ailing for nearly a year with a recurring lung illness that dated back to the 27 years he spent in apartheid jails, including the notorious Robben Island penal colony.

In India, Mandela is highly revered for adopting methods of non-violence and peace to achieve his political objects against apartheid system, which were espoused by Mahatma Gandhi, leader of independence struggle.

The Dalai Lama, paying tribute to the fellow Nobel laureate, said: “Great, I think peacemaker. I think (he was) very practical, I think a determined leader. I had met him on few occasions. I really admire, certainly I am one of the admirers. So therefore, at this moment firstly, I am very sad. But at the same time that sadness, I think other people who have same sort of feeling, then we must translate that sadness into determination. We must carry his spirit continuously-that I think is very important.”

Mandela was elected as president in landmark all-race elections in 1994 and retired in 1999.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, an honour he shared with F.W. de Klerk, the white Afrikaner leader who released from jail arguably the world’s most famous political prisoner.

As president, Mandela faced the monumental task of forging a new nation from the deep racial injustices left over from the apartheid era, making reconciliation the theme of his time in office.

The hallmark of Mandela’s mission was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which probed apartheid crimes on both sides of the struggle and tried to heal the country’s wounds. It also provided a model for other countries torn by civil strife.

In 1999, Mandela handed over power to younger leaders better equipped to manage a modern economy – a rare voluntary departure from power cited as an example to African leaders.

After retirement, he shifted his energies to battling South Africa’s AIDS crisis and the struggle became personal when he lost his only surviving son to the disease in 2005. (ANI)