Chairperson of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga urged Sri Lankans to learn understand and transmit to succeeding generations the timeless legacy the late South African President Nelson Mandela left us and march undaunted towards our goal of a united, strong and prosperous nation.
Issuing a message yesterday (17) on the centenary of his birth anniversary and on Mandela’s legacy on reconciliation, she noted that Mandela is the universal symbol of freedom, ethnic harmony, unity, and reconciliation.
“Mandela’s legacy has inspired every mass movement around the globe that fought for human freedom and dignity by celebrating ethnic diversity as a virtue that helps override the challenges. He was committed to democratic values and advocated human dignity and equity. He personally experienced the pain of social repression. Consequently, he identified and addressed the root causes of human suffering. Through dedication to social justice and the dignity of humanity, Mandela showed us through personal example the qualities of true leadership. He has demonstrated the importance of unity among diverse communities. Mandela said that ‘reconciliation is inseparable from the achievement of a non-racial, democratic, and united nation affording common citizenship, rights and obligations to each and every person, and respecting the rich diversity of our people’. Not only did he fight for what was right, he was amazingly forgiving his enemies. As a nation emerging from an armed conflict, we need to work tirelessly together to overcome the multiplicity of challenges facing us. We have many lessons to be learned from Mandela’s legacy. As he told us, ‘reconciliation requires that we work together to defend our democracy and humanity proclaimed by our Constitution’.”