Kofi Annan delivers message from The Elders before Mandela memorial


“I am saddened to be standing before you today as we prepare to say farewell to Nelson Mandela. We send our affection and wishes of comfort to Madiba’s wife and our fellow member of The Elders, Graça Machel, and the entire Mandela family,” said Annan, former United Nations Secretary General.

Annan stood with several of his fellow Elders including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson, Lakhdar Brahimi and Martti Ahtisaari. All of whom attended former South African President Nelson Mandela’s memorial service at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The Elders, which was founded in 2007 by Nelson Mandela at the age of 89, is an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights.


“When he [Mandela] founded the group here in Johannesburg, in 2007, he said: ‘The Elders will support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict and inspire hope where there is despair’,” he said.

“Today, we reflect on the man who uttered those words – how his courage and compassion helped millions around the world to triumph over despair, conflict and fear. As we mourn Madiba’s departure today, we also celebrate his life and the lessons he taught us.”

Annan also added that the world had lost a visionary leader and that Mandela led a singular life of sacrifice in the name of freedom and human rights. The last meeting the Elders held with Mandela was three years ago.

“The world has lost a visionary leader, a courageous voice for justice and a clear moral compass.

Nelson Mandela led a singular life of sacrifice in the name of freedom and human rights,” he added.

“He taught the world that the very path to freedom and human dignity lies in love, wisdom and compassion for one another. He stands as an inspiration to us all and like few others, he will inspire generations to come.”

“It was here in Johannesburg, three years ago, that the Elders all met with Mandela, as a group, for the last time. We look forward to continuing his legacy. Madiba believed in the continuity of The Elders. He launched the group when he was 89-years old, determined, as ever, to carry forth an idea that was bigger than any one individual.”