Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Mandela a 'inspirational leader'

Africans living in the Goulburn Valley have spoken of sadness after Nelson Mandela's death.

JOHN LEWIS December 7, 2013 3:59am

Locals talk about the death of Nelson Mandela- ltr Rashidi Sumaili, Antoine Yamfu

The Goulburn Valley African community is in mourning following the death of its ‘‘true inspirational leader’’ Nelson Mandela.

African community leaders yesterday spoke of sadness and loss at the news of Mr Mandela’s passing aged 95.

GV African Community secretary Rashidi Sumaili said ‘‘Madiba’’ was an inspiration not just to fellow South Africans, but to the whole world.

‘‘We‘re so sorry for his loss,’’ Mr Sumaili said.

‘‘Our thoughts are with him, the people of South Africa, and particularly his family.

‘‘He was a man of integrity, courage and judgement.

‘‘We are very sad, we have lost our true inspirational leader.’’

Mr Sumaili, who arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2005, said Mr Mandela played a vital role as an independent spokesman for peace during his country’s civil war, which is ongoing.

‘‘Mandela played a big role when the conflict started in the Congo in 1996. He was a mediator between President Mobutu and Joseph Kabila,’’ Mr Sumaili said.

GV African Community member Antoine Yamfu agreed Mr Mandela was a world leader for all Africans.

‘‘He taught us to be proud,’’ Mr Yamfu said.


Mr Sumaili said Mr Mandela’s message of freedom and peace was broadcast to Congolese people through musicians such as Papa Wemba.

‘‘We learned about Mandela through songs. We also learned at school,’’ Mr Sumaili said.

He said Mr Mandela’s legacy was to lift up the spirits of African people.

‘‘He teaches us to forgive, and that we need to live together. He was against black or white domination,’’ Mr Sumaili said.

‘‘His legacy and vision make us proud and we sincerely believe that his vision and leadership empowered many of us, and we hope it will continue to live on in our time and our future generations.’’

However, Mr Sumaili said he feared Mr Mandela’s passing could signal a time of turbulent politics for South Africa.

‘‘There are many people who have kept quiet while Mandela was alive. We pray for South Africa and for nations where war is still continuing,’’ he said.

Mr Sumaili said a special memorial mass for the life of Nelson Mandela was planned for St Brendan’s Church on Nixon St, Shepparton next Friday, December 13, from 6.30pm.

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