Madiba praised at royal event

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has praised the spirit of forgiveness in the father of the nation - Nelson Mandela - saying it has touched millions of people worldwide.

Zuma was speaking at an event organised by traditional leaders from South Africa and the world at Freedom Pak on Thursday. It was attended by about 30 members of royalty from Africa, Europe and Asia.

Zuma called Mandela a "father, leader and great reconciler" between traditionalists and modernists.

He told the gathering that Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who released five South African mercenaries who had plotted to overthrow his government, was one of those people who has learnt from Mandela's forgiving nature.

Zuma was in Guinea on Wednesday when a reporter asked Nguema why he had released the mercenaries.

"I'm one of those who has been taught by Mandela that as Africans we must forgive," Zuma said Nguema had responded.

.Zuma said the gathering, which would become an annual event, was appropriately in honour of Mandela.

"It is a welcomed initiative for you to come together and honour this hero," he said.

Zuma said it had been one of Mandela's dreams that political and traditional leaders would one day work together.

"He was a man who did not see a contradiction between the traditional system and the modern democratic system," said Zuma.

Dancers clad in animal skins and singing traditional songs opened the royal ceremony.

Speaking at the event, President of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa said: "We have given many a chance to honour our African icon and we now feel it is our time as the traditional leaders to honour him."

Holomisa said they were honouring Madiba for the role he had played in ensuring that the political youth accept that traditional leaders were a part of South African society.

"We have observed him, as traditional leaders; in bringing about unity between the white and black races...he has been the great reconciler. He has been crucial in ensuring that we have a peaceful transition," said Holomisa about Madiba.

The event will also see the launch of the Institute of African Royalty that will name Madiba as "Prince Mandela" at a gala ceremony this evening.

Madiba has always regarded traditional leaders as the backbone of society. During his presidency, the National house of Traditional Leaders and the National Khoisan Council were established.

Although Mandela and traditional leaders have not always agreed on some issues, he has always urged them to promote peace, study further, look after those living with HIV/Aids and to encourage their subjects to vote.