“One of the many initiatives that Mandela took was to bring together The Elders and we all who were asked said yes because we were called by this prominent figure in all of our lives. It would have been unthinkable, I think, for any of us to have declined an invitation by Nelson Mandela,” said Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway.
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Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, reflected on the light-hearted nature of the former president of South Africa.
“One of the joyful things about Nelson Mandela was his sense of humour and his ability to tease and to flirt and do everything to take him off his pedestal. You know he didn’t want to be revered in the way that he was so revered both in South Africa and around of the world,” said Robinson.
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Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, described Mandela as a unique individual with incredible patience and sense of forgiveness and reconciliation.
“When you look around the world today and you see the violence from Middle East to Ukraine to Africa you ask yourself if there were a few more Mandela’s operating in some of these areas what a difference it would make,” he said.
The Elders, formed in 2007, is a non-governmental organisation of public figures who describe themselves as ‘independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights’.