Washington, DC – “IRI is saddened to learn of the death of Nelson Mandela.  As a leader in South Africa’s liberation struggle and its first post-apartheid president, he will be forever remembered as one of the world’s greatest advocates for democracy.

“Remarkably, despite the devastating impact of apartheid, which stripped millions of people of their political, economic and social rights, President Mandela focused on a future of racial equality.  He sought reconciliation and a balance between peace and justice.  He advocated for the sacrosanctity of the rule of law and the absolute protection of human rights.  For his vision of a post-racial South Africa, Mandela sacrificed almost 30 years of his life in prison.  When his presidency came to an end after one term, despite the many hurdles South Africa still faced, Mandela stepped down, a reminder that the country’s institutions are more important than individuals.

“As we remember the former president and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, it is worth considering Mandela’s words about the parallels of his own life’s struggle with the challenges and prospects of democracy:

I have walked that long road to freedom.  I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way.  But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.  I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come.  But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.

“While President Mandela’s personal walk may have ended, he will be forever remembered.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to President Mandela’s family and to the people of South Africa.”

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