President Joyce Banda received a standing ovation at Nelson Mandela’s State Funeral in his home village of Qunu, South Africa as her moving speech the President described how she personally drew inspiration from Mandela’s spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation during her rise to become President and while leading her country, Malawi.
Banda, who is also the current Chairperson of Southern African Development Council (SADC), called for the SADC region to continue striving towards Mandela’s legacy of peace, security and integration. .
As one of only a few leaders speaking at the funeral, Banda explained how Mandela’s struggle against apartheid and his determination to unite South Africa after being imprisoned helped her overcome her own political struggles.
“After three years of isolation, humiliation and name calling, I found myself in a situation where I had to work with those who had desired to prevent me from becoming President of my country. I had to forgive them without effort.”
Recollecting a meeting with Mandela in his home during 2011, Banda went on to say “I was deeply touched by his spirit of forgiveness, his passion to put people first and courage. These attributes have greatly influenced my life.”
The Malawians leader then went on to describe that “Tata’s courage, determination, love and passion for his people inspired me on my journey to becoming the first elected woman President in my country. I learned that leadership is about falling in love with the people and the people falling in love with you.”
During her speech social networks were a buzz with support and compliments for Banda’s speech. The hash tag JoyceBanda trended on Twitter Trends Map in South Africa with positive comments like: @ ghPresh “What an amazing individual. You are such an inspiration to us young women in South Africa” coming in from all over the world and @LJPoro “A very fitting address 4our #madiba, 4reminding heads of state 2love people of their country before seeking to be loved” flooding Twitter.
Commenting on what Mandela death has meant for SADC she said “We in the SADC Region, whilst mourning his death, also see this as an opportunity to celebrate the life of a great Statesman, an icon from our region. The life of Tata Mandela will continue to inspire those of us left behind, promote peace and security, deepen regional integration and work to support one another as it was during the fight against apartheid. We will strive to emulate Tata Mandela’s stature and spirit so that his legacy can live on. The ideals of political, social and economic emancipation that he stood for will inspire us forever as a Region.”
Banda also paid tribute to Mandela’s life and his powerful courage and determination to free his people from apartheid. She said that the SADC region should draw inspiration from this determination and continue to strive towards socio economic integration and cooperation.
“The way he conducted himself, he saw no boundaries between and among the countries of the region. He championed the freedom of not only South Africans but also all Africans. The life of Tata Mandela will continue to inspire those of us left behind, promote peace and security, deepen regional integration and work to support one another as it was during the fight against apartheid. We will strive to emulate Tata Mandela’s stature and spirit so that his legacy can live on.
“The SADC region will remember him for his wisdom and statesmanship; his humility and sense of humour; and his servant leadership style. We in the SADC Region will remember Tata as a great reformer who championed the cause of humanity, deepening democracy and dedicated his life to selfless service, a man who worked tirelessly to promote national, regional and world peace. “
President Banda called on all South Africans to remain united saying that SADC will support South Africa and will continue to strive towards deepening democracy and regional integration.