As we all have learned by now, Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95.
It is a measure of how much he was revered and admired across Africa and the entire world that the news has evoked such profound feelings of loss and reflection across the globe.
Like you, I have been thinking deeply about how much he shaped and changed the history of our continent and also brought hope to the rest of the world that freedom cannot be indefinitely denied to oppressed people wherever they endure injustice and degradation. His courage to stand up for his principles, even at a high personal cost, will remain an eternal example to humanity.
Here in Paris, at The Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa, I have just heard tributes to Nelson Mandela from the almost 30 African Heads of State who are here for this important meeting. President Hollande, Dr. Zuma, President of the African Union Commission, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia as Chair of AU, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission President, Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Foreign Minister of South Africa, have also delivered incredibly moving testimonials and paid their profound respects. I felt very moved and fortunate to be in the same room as these leaders honored the life and times of Nelson Mandela.
Our colleagues in South Africa held a remembrance in the office today and will fly their office flags at half-mast until the end of the 10-day official mourning period.
Last night, before leaving Japan to fly back across the Pacific to Washington, Jim Kim expressed his condolences on behalf of the Bank Group to Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela’s family, and the South African people, saying that "the world has lost a man who brought a rainbow of possibilities to a country that was segregated into black and white. But his gifts to humankind remain with us. He taught the world that no matter the sins of the past, no matter the horror of apartheid, the way ahead toward peace was to forgive but not forget, to remember what happened but also to offer a hand in order to start anew."
A Nelson Mandela memorial rally will be held next Tuesday, December 10 in Johannesburg's FNB stadium, before he will lie in state to receive the respect of the world leaders during December 11-13.
So on this saddest of days, let us all give thanks for the life and times of Nelson Mandela, a great and beloved leader who will be greatly missed and shine on for future generations.