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Elders in Johannesburg for Mandela's memorial service

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"The world has lost a visionary leader, a courageous voice for justice and a clear moral compass." As the Elders prepare to attend Nelson Mandela's memorial service in South Africa, Kofi Annan gives a statement on behalf of The Elders honouring the life and lessons of their founder.

A delegation of Elders is in South Africa today to attend the memorial service of their founder, Nelson Mandela. 

Kofi Annan giving a statement to the press on behalf of The Elders in tribute to Nelson Mandela

Kofi Annan read the following statement on behalf of The Elders:

“I am saddened to be standing before you today as we prepare to say farewell to Nelson Mandela. We send our affection and wishes of comfort to Madiba’s wife and our fellow member of The Elders, Graça Machel, and the entire Mandela family.

The world has lost a visionary leader, a courageous voice for justice and a clear moral compass. Nelson Mandela led a singular life of sacrifice in the name of freedom and human rights. He taught the world that the very path to freedom and human dignity lies in love, wisdom and compassion for one another.

He stands as an inspiration to us all. And like few others, he will inspire generations to come. It was here in Johannesburg, three years ago, that the Elders all met with Mandela, as a group, for the last time.

We look forward to continuing his legacy. Madiba believed in the continuity of The Elders. He launched the group when he was 89 years old, determined, as ever, to carry forth an idea that was bigger than any one individual.

When he founded the group here in Johannesburg, in 2007, he said: “The Elders will support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict and inspire hope where there is despair.”

Today, we reflect on the man who uttered those words – how his courage and compassion helped millions around the world to triumph over despair, conflict and fear. As we mourn Madiba’s departure today, we also celebrate his life and the lessons he taught us.

And tomorrow we shall return to our work, inspired by Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy, in the name of peace, justice and human rights.

Thank you.”

Statement by Kofi Annan, Chair of The Elders
Johannesburg, 10 December 2013

Following this short statement, Kofi Annan, Martti Ahtisaari, Lakhdar Brahimi, Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson travelled to the FNB stadium in Johannesburg where the memorial service is being held. They joined their fellow Elders Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil, and Graça Machel, Nelson Mandela's widow.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Jimmy Carter and Lakhdar Brahimi discuss their relationship with Nelson Mandela and how The Elders can carry forward his vision:

In an interview with CNN's Becky Anderson, Mary Robinson also spoke about Nelson Mandela's legacy and why he represented "the best of us":

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