World leaders pay tribute to Mandela


Leaders from around the world have converged on a football stadium in Soweto South Africa to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. President Barak Obama will lead the tributes from international State figures. Here from the UK the Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour’s Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg will all be in attendance.

South African’s themselves made their way to the 95,000 capacity stadium in the early hours of the morning to ensure they got t a seat despite heavy rain falls. Many were signing and dancing to the beat of freedom songs, anthem which helped a people through its darkest years.

Other figures such as former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and former Prime Minister Tony Blair have just arrived along with French Prime Minister François Hollande and former Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Celebrities too have travelled to Soweto to pay their respects including Bono, super model Naomi Campbell, and Hollywood actress Charliz Theron.

In some quarters around the world there has been a backlash to politicians and media outlets wanting to pay tribute to this extra ordinary man’s life. First out the blocks was the Spectator writer Rod Liddle who tweeted:

For Christ's sake BBC, give it a bloody break for five minutes, will you?

It's as if the poor bugger now has to bear your entire self-flagellating white post-colonial bien pensant guilt; look! Famous nice black man dies!’.

LBC Nick Ferrari seemed to echo those sentiments in his radio programme too.

But what these naysayers conveniently ignore is the simple fact that in spite of Mandela’s own faults, has there every been a man in the last 100 years that has been vehemently committed to defeating great injustice and then showing the healing power of forgiveness. That’s why he is revered, that is why so many leaders and ordinary people want to show their respect.

It’s a shame that Liddle, Ferrari and the other naysayers don’t get it. Truth is they would be better human beings for understanding that Mandela was much more that ‘a nice black man’.

President Obama's speech:


Simon Woolley